- England name team to play Scotland - read
- Eddie Jones pays tribute to Youngs ahead of record cap - read
Former England international Tom May picks out three players to keep an eye on during Saturday's clash against Scotland at Twickenham Stadium.
"If Ireland do England a favour beforehand the atmosphere at Twickenham is going to be unreal, it will be absolutely buzzing. We’ll know by kick off whether England have a chance of winning the Championship but either way the contest on Saturday is going to be fiery because the rivalry between the two countries is so intense."
Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 12 caps)
For someone who got given their international opportunity fairly recently, he has now become so important to Eddie Jones’ team and has also taken to the international stage so quickly.
His work rate around the field in a game is incredible, it’s not the flash stuff, but he just gets it done and by him getting it done it allows other players to do other things. I think he has been a real find for Eddie Jones. His tackle stats are amazing, the number he has made and the number of missed tackles is very impressive. He carries hard into areas where you’re not necessarily going to get a huge amount of yardage, it’s just a necessity, but he’ll do it. He hits rucks and has been brilliant for England.
Given Scotland’s back row is feisty with the likes of Hamish Watson, I think Wilson is a brilliant guy to bring back into the team for this fixture. For a long time the balance of England’s back row was questioned, but we now have two genuine sevens in Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, two eights in Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes and two out and out blindside flankers in Wilson and Brad Shields. The amount of work Wilson and Curry get through, and the balance those two are offering England is so important.
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 84 caps)
Clearly he has been Eddie’s number one for a long time and the fact he wins his 85th cap and becomes England’s most capped scrum half shows how consistent he’s been at the highest level for a huge amount of time and how well he’s played.
Over this Six Nations, we’ve seen him back to his best and that’s made a difference to England. He is a clear threat around the breakdown, he’s still got the pace to make inroads into those defences and his core skills as a nine are brilliant. There’s not much more you would want from your scrum half, especially going into a fixture like Saturday.
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 21 caps)
He looks like the class act on the international stage that we’ve seen him be at Exeter for so many years. He’s now consistently reproducing that form in an England shirt.
I like the balance he gives to England’s midfield, I like the fact he has spent a decent amount of time in other positions which has given him a genuine understanding of what other players around him want and need as a result.
It makes you a much-more rounded player, especially when you come into a position like outside centre where you have to read what 10 and 12 are doing inside you, adapt your lines of running and how you contribute to that play or phase, but also balance that out with what the guys outside you want. I think he’s got that intelligence about him to do that and there are not many who can do that.
He’s a great player and definitely one to watch in terms of the amount of contributions he makes around the field.