English Rugby
'Tomkins will not get England stage fright'
ESPN Staff
October 3, 2013
Joel Tomkins on the charge for Saracens © PA Photos

England's centre options

  • Kyle Eastmond - Currently injured but shone for England on their tour of Argentina. Livewire centre who can unpick the most brutal of defences.
  • Anthony Allen - Criminally overlooked by England in the past and is equally adept at No.12 and 13.
  • Luther Burrell - Offers the same physicality as Tuilagi and Barritt and has been one of the form players in the Premiership this season.
  • Billy Twelvetrees - Could act as a second playmaker. Incredibly talented but may not offer the same bulk favoured by England in the past.
  • Jonathan Joseph - Yet to find his feet for Bath but did well on the summer tour of Argentina. Has a real chance of being picked at No.13 for England.
  • Henry Trinder - Gloucester's best player this season, Trinder is making all the right noises about an England call-up for outside centre.
  • Elliot Daly - Incredibly talented and cuts neat lines with ease but currently injured and set for October return.
  • Joel Tomkins - Saracens centre cruelly missed out on summer tour due to injury. One of the better crosscode moves and is certain to win England caps at some juncture.
  • George Lowe - Harlequins centre has been a mainstay in their centres but is probably fairly low down the pecking order

Saracens coach Mark McCall insists rugby league convert Joel Tomkins is ready to step up to Test level ahead of the autumn internationals.

England are currently counting the cost of a bruising start to the Aviva Premiership with both Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi sidelined. That leaves Stuart Lancaster with just two fit centres in England's Elite Player Squad - Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees and Bath's Kyle Eastmond.

Lancaster will now almost certainly turn to the Saxons to bolster his options in the centres and the likes of Northampton's Luther Burrell, Bath's Jonathan Joseph, Wasps' Elliot Daly, Leicester's Anthony Allen and Harlequins' George Lowe could all be called upon.

Another option would be to turn to Barritt's Saracens team-mate Tomkins who missed out on the summer tour of Argentina due to an ankle injury. Tomkins made a slow start to his union career when he swapped codes in November 2011 but he is now Saracens' first choice outside centre and he could make his Test bow against Australia on November 2.

"Joel is not going to suffer stage fright if he were to be picked for England," Saracens boss McCall told the Telegraph. "The higher up he goes in a sport, the better he is. He would relish it, not be cowed by it. He has brought over that big-game mentality from rugby league. He has improved so much in the last six months, especially in his decision-making. He is forceful, physical, has great offloading skills and is in the mould of Conrad Smith."

Tomkins admits the possibility of Test rugby helped persuade him to join union but he is adamant Saracens comes first over any possible England recognition. He said: "The 2015 Rugby World Cup is a definite goal. Coming over when I did gave me a chance of making that.

"I did wonder at times if I had made the right decision as I battled to come to terms with a new game but I have no regrets at all. Far from it. I'm loving it. I just want to perform for Saracens and what happens after that will happen. These are exciting times. Of course they are. There are a few lads looking to stake their England claims over the next few weeks and that competition will bring the best out of us all."

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