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No more than 24 hours after securing his third Six Nations title in five years, England boss Eddie Jones already had his focus locked in on his side’s fixture with Georgia to begin the Autumn Nations Cup.
Eager to put the 2019 World Cup final behind them, Jones and England stumbled out of the blocks in 2020, but rebounded extraordinarily well to claim the Six Nations crown and head into the Autumn Nations Cup as one of the favorites.
With a heavy contingent of players from the World Cup run still in their prime, England moved into 2020 with an already-loaded roster. However, the emergence of a number of great younger players has now created a side chock full of unthinkable depth – and unthinkable selection headaches.
Here is a look at England’s roster heading into the Autumn Nations Cup, where they’re strongest, and which areas could be a weakness:
Props: Ellis Genge; Beno Obano; Kyle Sinckler; Will Stuart; Mako Vunipola; Harry Williams
Hookers: Tom Dunn; Jamie George; Jack Singleton
Locks: Charlie Ewels; Jonny Hill; Maro Itoje; Joe Launchbury; David Ribbans
Flankers: Tom Curry; Ben Earl; Ted Hill; Lewis Ludlam; Sam Underhill; Jack Willis
No.8: Billy Vunipola
Scrum-halves: Willi Heinz; Dan Robson; Ben Youngs
Fly-halves: Owen Farrell; Jacob Umaga
Centers: Jonathan Joseph; Ollie Lawrence; Joe Marchant; Henry Slade
Wings: Joe Cokanasiga; Jonny May; Ollie Thorley
Fullback: George Furbank; Max Malins; Anthony Watson
Eddie Jones will have plenty of depth to work with at nearly every position, but none more so than flanker. While Tom Curry and Sam Underhill form the famed Kamikaze Kids duo, they’ll now have to stave off competition from Premiership player of the year Jack Willis, as well as strong-running Ben Earl, tackling machine Lewis Ludlam, and massive Ted Hill.
With Tom Curry also equally capable as a No. 8, England will be able to shift guys around in the event of an injury. Additionally, Jones will be able to bring some serious firepower in off the bench, whoever he picks to be the impact sub.
If England does have a question mark this autumn, you have to look at the centers. With George Ford injured and his return questionable, England won’t be able to utilize the dual-playmaking combination of Ford and Farrell at 10 and 12 as they’ve done so often in recent years.
Furthermore, England suffered an enormous blow last month when powerhouse center Manu Tuilagi tore his achilles in a Premiership game for Sale, meaning they’ll be without one their most dynamic players for the foreseeable future.
Despite the injuries in the backline, England still has playmakers Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph locked and loaded for a huge tournament. 21-year-old Ollie Lawrence also won his first cap against Italy over the weekend and has all the physical tools to fill Tuilagi’s shoes one day.
England came into 2020 needing a strong year to move on from the pain of their loss to South Africa last November. Aside from a tough opener to France, England has taken care of all necessary business since then, and heads into the Autumn Nations Cup as the Pool A favorite and the 3rd ranked team in the world.
England will have tough games against rivals Wales and Ireland in pool play, but should be expected to win both of those. Their first game against Georgia could be a chance to see some of the young up-and-comers get a shot to show what they can do.
England vs Georgia - Nov. 14 | 10:00 am ET
England vs Ireland - Nov. 21 | 10:00 am ET
Wales vs England - Nov. 28 | 11:00 am ET
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