- Tom May won two caps for England
- Made 247 Premiership appearances and played for Toulon
- England name side to play Australia - read
England head into their final Test of the year looking to end 2018 on a high as they take on Australia at Twickenham Stadium.
Former England international Tom May picks out three players to keep an eye on during Saturday's Quilter International.
Ben Moon, prop, three caps
This month is the first time anyone who doesn’t follow Exeter week in, week out has probably had a real opportunity to have more detailed look at Ben Moon.
He has done well in these Quilter Internationals, he’s gone about his work with minimal fuss and just got the job done.
Listening to Eddie Jones this week, he is impressed about how he goes about his job, gets on with it and does all the hard graft which is great and it should give England a platform to play off on Saturday. He’s helped them cope with the loss of Mako Vunipola and Ellis Genge with some real consistent performances.
I’ve picked him out as he is coming up an experienced front row of Scott Sio, Tolu Latu and Sekope Kepu so it is going to be a real test for him, and so early on his international career, so we’ll find out a lot more about him this weekend. That front row battle is going to be intriguing.
Sam Underhill, flanker, eight caps
Sam Underhill was outstanding against the All Blacks. New Zealand didn’t necessarily have an out and out seven, their seven was Ardie Savea, who is a very different player to Michael Hooper and because of that England have got to be super accurate at the breakdown and Underhill has got a key role to play in that.
In both attack and defence, getting to that breakdown first and securing ball is crucial and if we can slow their ball down it means we can stop them getting on the front foot and likewise bring Ben Te’o, Joe Cokanasiga and Manu Tuilagi, when he comes on, into the game.
Underhill said after that game against New Zealand that he has set his own standard now. If he can play like that against the Kiwis, then he’s got to be able to serve that up against Australia. It’s important for him to have a good game on Saturday and be one of England’s stand up performers. If he has a good afternoon, it’s likely England will, that’s how important he is at the weekend.
Henry Slade, centre, 16 caps
It’s quite interesting that Australia have selected their version of Ben Te’o at 13 (Samu Kerevi). They have their runner at 13 and we have our ball player at 13. Clearly it’s only set piece but there will be shapes that those boys fall into after that but it might give an indication as to where Eddie Jones thinks there might be space to exploit and where decision makers are needed.
In that 13 space if you hold onto the ball for too long, the space goes for those outside players and when you get any space for Joe Cokanasiga and Jonny May they are gone so that’s a really important role for Henry Slade to try and get them into the game. He’s up against Kerevi so defensively he needs to withstand that but from an attacking perspective he needs to be able to take the ball flat and risk getting belted but have the skill to get the ball into the right places.
Eddie has probably been looking for a while to get some size into the equation, he’s been without Manu Tuilagi for a while, and based on picking Ben Te’o, who has had very little rugby this season, and along with Owen Farrell, Joe Cokanasiga, Jonny May, Slade and Elliot Daly there is a nice balance of power and pace to that backline.