Tuesday 12 November 2013

November players to watch: Report Card

1. Mark Bennett

Did not play against Japan. Unlikely to feature against either South Africa or Australia as a result, but the experience of his first call up will aid his development, and his time will come sooner rather than later.

2. Santiago Cordero

Cordero came on in the 31st minute for his first international cap. It wasn't a great game, and England had taken their foot off the pedal by the time he came on. He looked tidy, and didn't make any defensive errors. This little run was the highlight of his game, and a glimpse of what's to come.

3. Camille Lopez

Was an unused sub against New Zealand, will look to get gametime in their games against Tonga or South Africa.

4. Jack McGrath

While the man of the match award was a little generous, take nothing away from McGrath. A performance which announced to anyone watching that he has a future at this level, McGrath was a big part of a dominant scrum, while also featuring heavily at the breakdown and contributing 12 tackles in his hour on the pitch. At any other time in the last 15 years, McGrath would be a shoo in regular international, which just emphasises the freak nature of Cian Healy's ability. Schmidt will use the competition between the pair to get the best out of them and I expect them to dovetail nicely.

5. Charles Piutau

New Zealand's find of November already. Piutau is making a strong case to be included in BNZ's strongest lineup. He is likely to be rested for the trip to Twickenham as Hansen tries to avoid playing rookies three games in a row, but Piutau has a big future ahead of him. His pace and intelligent offload were the difference in Paris. His best position is fullback, and there are calls for him to move into the outside centre position for the Blues, but for now, let's just watch him being given license to devastate anyone who stands in his way.

6. Marland Yarde

Yarde produced a good display against Australia, with an impressive run up the sideline setting up Chris Robshaw's try that swung the balance of the game. An unfortunate hip injury saved Lancaster a tough choice by allowing Ashton to be retained, and Yarde could find it hard to get back into the team on his return.

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