Olly Woodburn pushes for England call-up, threatening to cause a rearrangement of the England squads back three options
England's winger stocks are at an all-time high at present, with Lions starting duo Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly backed up by the relentless Jack Nowell and speedster Jonny May. While all four of these men have been a constant under head coach Eddie Jones, we may see a chopping and changing of the pecking order over the season following injuries to Daly and Nowell. Exeter Chiefs' Olly Woodburn is currently outperforming any England winger in the Premiership and will be edging his way closer to the national fold than ever before.
After trading clubs from Bath to Exeter for a starting role, Woodburn has gone from strength to strength, developing the most complete skill set in England. The 26-year-old is as imposing in the air as he is a metre out from the try line and has displayed some deft offloading skills in the months of late.
One of Woodburn's most admirable traits has been his ability to react to any weaknesses shown in his game. After being left wanting in the ariel battle against Leinster at Sandy Park, Woodburn transformed his ability under the high-ball to one that is unrivalled by any other out and out winger in England. His potency in attack is excellently paired with defensive grit, while his finishing ability has been world class for the last two seasons. Woodburn's finish for his second try against Montpellier over the weekend was an absolute delight, we've clipped it up for your viewing pleasure! Unless you are a Montpellier fan that is...
When you look at the wingers selected by Eddie Jones, they all fall into rather specific categories. Jonny May is the out and out speed man, whilst Anthony Watson is the hot-stepping winger/fullback who can create something out of nothing in Jason Robinson- type fashion. Jack Nowell is the man who earns the hard yards and hits the ruck as hard as he carries, he's the workman wing that provides that extra bit of physical strength, though pace is his limitation. Elliot Daly is the all-rounder, able to kick, step, link up with teammates and gas his opposite man, the perfectly rounded back three player. The only aspect of Daly's skill set that Woodburn doesn't possess to the same standard is kicking and perhaps distribution. The Bath Academy product can do everything else, able to fill the role of an out and out winger while offering the extra bulk that is currently akin to Nowell.
To continue their winning ways, England must select players when they are quite clearly outperforming their competition. In Woodburn, you have the perfect example of this, as he displays very few weaknesses to pin a squad exclusion on. If Eddie Jones wants the best available players in his squad, he should be picking Woodburn. The competition brought by his inclusion alone will benefit the player group, but it is Woodburn's form that should earn him a call-up.
Woodburn faces his greatest opportunity yet. With Elliot Daly and Jack Nowell both currently out injured, there are two squad spots up for grabs. If the Keynsham-born 26-year-old gets his chance at international level, Exeter teammate Jack Nowell or even Leicester flyer Jonny May might well be knocked down a rung in the England pecking order. The attack is one of Eddie Jones' current areas of focus and having a high-quality finisher on the wing can be the difference between a rugby dynasty and being the 'nearly men'.
Enter our competition to win a free Crashball Rugby t-shirt on twitter by clicking on the button below
To stay up to date with our analysis, insight and news, follow us on social media by clicking the icons below.