As the autumn internationals draw closer we at Gainline Rugby have decided to take a look at 5 up and coming England stars that we believe will take the international game by storm in the years to come. We’re not saying all these lads will play a big part in the upcoming internationals but we think they all certainly have the potential to be an integral part of Eddie Jones’ 2019 world cup squad in Japan.
Height: 6ft 1
Position: Openside Flanker
At the age of 19 the Sale starlet certainly does have the world at his feet, quick, strong and a huge engine for a lad his age combined with a rugby brain and breakdown skills few English players possess he really is the all round package. Growing up with twin brother Ben seems have done them both the world of good, pushing eachother all the way to international honours and both being part of the 2017 England under 20 grand slam winning side. I genuinely do see a huge future for this lad, a proper openside, the likes of which we haven’t seen in England for some time, a real fetcher. If Jones decides to stray away from the two “6,5’s” he’s got a real shot at the 7 shirt although faces direct competition from bath’s Sam Underhill.
Ratu Joe Cokanasiga
Height: 6ft 3.5
Weight: 17st 9
Born in Fiji to a father in the British Army big Joe did plenty of moving around in his early years spending time in Brunei and Germany as his father served queen and country. Moving back to blighty in 2013 it wasn’t long before this behemoth on the wing was starting to garner attention and in 2015 he joined the London Irish academy where he was immediately placed in their sevens team for the Premiership Rugby Sevens Series (typical Fijian hey).
Cokanasiga sites Jonah Lomu, Julian Savea and Semesi Rokoduguni as his idols and It’s easy to see their influence on him. This kid is huge, at 19 years old he’s the size of any decent international number 8 and/or a small family saloon, yet he’s on the wing, terrorizing often much smaller opponents. We all know size isn’t everything but athletically this guy really does have a huge advantage, crazy big and crazy fast I think Joe just needs that exposure to the highest level, consistently, to bring out the potential he has. it was a real shame he got injured on the summer tour to Argentina as that could have been the perfect entry point for the young man. I think handled correctly Cokanasiga has the potential to be as good as anyone out wide. A name to remember (if you can pronounce it).
Height: 6ft 1
Weight: 17st 11
Position: Loosehead Prop
The young Bristolian plying his trade in the east midlands is an absolute blockbuster of a prop, with more Youtube clips and Facebook vidoes than the rest of the premiership props combined I should imagine. Powerful, fit, great ball carrier, all things that shouldn’t be connected with a prop and certainly not words used for my ambling performances on a Saturday afternoon. But in all seriousness this lad is the next level of the prop evolution. Playing at number 8 through his teen years is obvious to see, this kid is an absolute cannonball of a ball carrier, great acceleration and tenacity often sees the young prop break the first line of the defence. But what I really like about this kid, and I think Eddie Jones does too, is the edge he brings. Genge is the type of player you love to have on your team and hate to play against, aggressive, in your face and will never take a backwards step, a real warrior in the same sort of mould as Eben Etzebeth or a young Julian White.
Although Genge started both tests in the summer tour to Argentina he will find it difficult to secure a test start this autumn as loosehead is a postion England are blessed with but I can certainly see Ellis Genge pushing joe Marler for the bench spot behind Mako Vunipola.
Height: 6ft 6
Weight: 17st 9
Position: Second Row
Maybe not the box office name some of the others have but the Bath second row has been slowly developing his game behind the scenes and is now ready to show the world (or at least the country) what he’s got. Being an English lock at the moment is always going to be hard work with Itoje, Kruis, Lawes and Launchbury all fighting for a starting place but I think the young man from Bournemouth has something different to offer. Ewels strikes me as leader and the Bath D.O.R Tod Blackadder obviously agrees, appointing him skipper for the Somerset clubs European cup game against Benetton. In this game Ewels conducted himself really well, reasoning with the referee on a couple of occasions, a skill few possess, never mind a player of his age. He clearly has the backing of the Bath management and the respect of his older team mates and I think that will go a long way in Eddie Jones’ mind.
As I say, there are a lot of quality English locks out there but I think given the chance at international level Ewels would excel and without a doubt take some knocking out of the shirt.
Weight: 14st 9
Position: Outside Centre
Eddie Jones has never been afraid to expose the young under 20’s stars to the cut and thrust of a full international camp and that’s exactly what he did with Marchant in 2016. I think it came as a surprise to most but jones clearly sees future potential in the young man from Winchester. To be honest it’s not hard to see why, the outside centre has blistering pace, lightening feet and although not exactly renowned for his huge hits he reads the defensive play very well and is extremely effective.
The standout player for England in their 2016 Junior World Cup Marchant was obviously earmarked for full international honours in a position that England have often struggled to fill until recently. Marchant draws obvious comparisons with Jonathan Joseph (which is in no way a bad thing) but I think Marchant can surpass the current England 13’s ability, I just see that extra bit of rugby nouse in his game. I can see a bright future in the England midfield for the young Harlequins lad.
I could have picked so many names for this article Nick Isiekwe, Nathan Earle, Paul Hill and Harry Mallinder to name a few but what I can safely say is the future is bright for England rugby. I have never seen such a clear cultivation of young talent in England, in years gone by most of these players would have been left to play club rugby and not given a sniff until they have played 4 or 5 seasons in the Premiership but exposing these young players to the England philosophy and having them play and train next to the current crop of England stars will absolutely pay dividends. To build the best team in the world you need competition for places and young men that are hungry to fight the established for their position and that’s why I think Eddie Jones has got it spot on. In Eddie we trust!
Thanks for reading Gainline Rugby’s take on the future crop of England stars and feel free to let us know who you think I’ve missed and any opinions you might have on the future of English rugby.