The Six Nations table resides incomplete, with Ireland and Italy having played a game less than everyone else, and the domestic leagues have been postponed while coronavirus ravages the best-laid scheduling plans of World Rugby. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
Loosehead prop, Joe Marler
It may have been a left-field shout only 12 months ago, with Marler in international retirement and Mako Vunipola’s mitts firmly over England No 1 jersey, but the Rugby World Cup and early Six Nations rounds may have shaken up the England loosehead competition.
Marler’s strong performances, particularly in the scrum, may make him a necessity at the set-piece over Vunipola’s skills in the loose. Wales’ scrum has been poor this Six Nations, conceding two penalties per match, while Scotland and Ireland’s have been passable but nothing to write home about (plus Cian Healy is already 32). England has been the dominant one, so at this point, Marler, at just 29, appears the obvious pick.
Squad players: Mako Vunipola, Rory Sutherland
Hooker, Ronan Kelleher
On current form, Ken Owens would go, but the Sherriff is already 33. Jamie George had a decent World Cup and an exceptional 12 months preceding, with Luke Cowan-Dickie giving him strong competition. Scotland cannot choose between Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown, but Ireland may have the young man ready to seize the shirt.
Given his form for Leinster and the way the 22-year-old could develop over the next year and a half, Ronan Kelleher could be the man.
Squad players: Jamie George, Luke Cowan-Dickie
Tighthead prop, Tadhg Furlong
This looks like a shootout between Tadhg Furlong and Kyle Sinckler for the shirt on the current form. Sinckler was outstanding at the World Cup but has since had a little dip, while Furlong has seen a little bump in the form with some exceptional carrying.
We shall give it to the Irishman for fear of selecting too many Englishman, but file this one under too close to call at the minute. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.
Squad players: Kyle Sinckler, Dillon Lewis, Zander Fagerson
Second rows, Maro Itoje and James Ryan
Not as easy a pick as it seems. While Itoje and Ryan appear the bankable forces in the second row in 2021, think of the names omitted. Alun Wyn Jones, Jonny Gray, George Kruis, Adam Beard, Iain Henderson, Jake Ball, Joe Launchbury, and Courtney Lawes.
Leinster’s Ryan Baird also exploded onto the scene in a fairly large way before the season was curtailed, he could be involved.
Squad players: Jonny Gray, Adam Beard, Ryan Baird and Alun Wyn Jones (if he continues to defy time).
Flankers, Tom Curry and Jamie Ritchie
Oh, my goodness it does not get any easier here. With Man of the Match awards in the Six Nations being distributed like confetti to back-rowers, there’s too much talent between six and eight to pick reliably.
Justin Tipuric will probably still be a criminally underrated force in 2021, and Tom Curry will continue to grow in stature with Warren Gatland presumably picking him at flanker where he does his best work. Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie keeps getting better and better with every test match.
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