Which Wasps players are waiting for a call from Eddie Jones?
The prospects of adding to his 62 England caps was clearly a major influencing factor in Wasps’ co-captain James Haskell’s decision to extend his contract with the club this week.
Haskell, who enjoyed his previous brief stint in the Southern Hemisphere with New Zealand Super 15 franchise Highlanders, clearly feels he has unfinished business in a white shirt, and is hopeful his name is in Eddie Jones’ notebook for the forthcoming Six Nations squad announcement.
Read More: James Haskell signs new contract with Wasps
A number of his fellow Ricoh Arena colleagues are also hoping their numbers are programmed into Jones’ phone, meaning as many as five Wasps are waiting expectantly for good news, but how realistic are their prospects?
Wasps star performer is a shoo-in for England at lock. After being one of the few players to emerge from RWC 2015 in credit, the towering second row has continued to perform consistently for his club, and at 24 his best years are ahead.
Launchbury has been discussed as a possible captain, but given his lack of experience at club level, reverting to an unproven (and young) leader seems unlikely to be Eddie Jones’ preferred short-term way forward.
Loose head prop Mullan’s prospects hinge on whether former-hooker Eddie Jones and his most recent appointment, scrum guru Ian Peel, value scrummaging power or contribution in the loose as being the most important quality in their props.
Mullan is by no means an old-style prop, whose duties consisted purely of walking from scrum to lineout, but is less obviously dynamic around the field than rivals Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola.
The former Worcester man is, however, a better scrummager than either of England’s World Cup loose heads, and given how exposed Stuart Lancaster’s team looked when confronted by opponents with a strong set-piece, he could be exactly what England need.
Wasps’ scrum half is a hugely improved player, whose game now has real balance. Simpson has always had a sharp eye for a break, but in recent years has also developed a fine kicking game, and improved the quality of his service, to become a highly-accomplished No.9.
His profile shot skywards following Wasps’ European Cup wins over Toulon and Leinster, and he must now be pushing incumbent scrum halves Ben Youngs, Danny Care and Richard Wigglesworth for a squad spot, although Harlequins’ Care has enjoyed a similarly strong run of form in recent weeks.
Outside centre Daly is the only player to start every Wasps match this season, and is in superb form.
His burning pace is complemented by a huge left foot, good passing game and solid defence.
Daly is potentially a superstar, so it is very unfortunate that another England player with similar potential, Jonathan Joseph, plays in the same position.
Daly therefore seems certain to make the squad, after which the contest for the No.1 shirt will be a close one.
Jake Cooper-Woolley and Christian Wade would probably both also have been part of Eddie Jones’ discussions had injury not struck, and will now hope to force their way into the reckoning for next summer’s tour, while Nathan Hughes becomes available for his adopted country over the summer and will begin his international career in the Autumn series.
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