It was a near miss for England in this season’s Six Nations as Ireland took the crown by a whisker on points difference but Stuart Lancaster’s men are shaping up nicely for next year’s World Cup.
It was the last-gasp defeat against Les Bleus on the opening weekend which ultimately cost Stuart Lancaster’s men a first championship since 2011 but England showed plenty of promise with victories over Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy.
Even without key men such as prop Alex Corbisiero, flanker Tom Croft, centre Manu Tuilagi and wingers Christian Wade and Marlon Yarde,
England, who are 4/1 to win next year’s World Cup, have a squad capable of matching up to any side in the world.
Our news team takes a look at three key players from England’s Six Nations campaign who can help inspire the Red Rose outfit to world glory next year.
Mike Brown – Full-back, Harlequins
The Harlequins full-back was the outstanding player in this year’s tournament, scoring four tries and picking up three man of the match awards for his troubles.
The 28-year-old is one of the contenders to win the Six Nations player of the tournament accolade and England will be hoping this kind of form continues into next year’s World Cup.
It took Brown 22 matches to open his try-scoring account for England but since grabbing the number 15 shirt from Ben Foden he has been in sparkling form and has cemented his place as one of the first names on Lancaster’s team sheet.
His superb performances have attracted praise from none other than World Cup winning full-back Jason Robinson and if Brown can go on to emulate the former England international’s exploits on the world stage, Lancaster and co will have every chance of glory.
Courtney Lawes – Second Row, Northampton
Much like Martin Johnson was for Clive Woodward’s World Cup winning side, Courtney Lawes is fast becoming the cornerstone of this England team.
The 25-year-old never takes a backward step and is ready to go toe-to-toe physically and mentally with the biggest reputations in world rugby.
The Northampton star has gone from inconsistent talent to a world class performer ready to lead England to glory at a major international tournament.
But while the 6ft 7in lock has been capturing the headlines with his all-action displays, special mention must also go to his second row partner, Joe Launchberry, who alongside Lawes is building one of the best lock partnerships on the international stage.
Danny Care – Scrum-half, Harlequins
The Harlequins scrum-half has been in and around the England set-up since winning his first cap in 2008 but 47 appearances later we are finally seeing the best of him.
Off-the-field incidents have tarnished his career in the past but now he is letting his rugby do the talking after a string of impressive performances in the number nine role.
The rejuvenated 27-year-old, who scored two tries during the tournament, was England’s third scrum-half in the Autumn but now he is up for the Six Nations player of the tournament gong alongside Brown and half-back partner Owen Farrell after helping to make England tick behind the scrum.
It is his partnership with Farrell which will give England plenty of encouragement heading into the World Cup next year, with Care’s excellent distribution and sharp thinking allowing the Saracens man the freedom to express himself in a manner which he hasn’t always been able to when pulling on an England shirt.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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