Next In Line? Who Could Eddie Jones Turn To With Manu Tuilagi Injured

Next In Line? Who Could Eddie Jones Turn To With Manu Tuilagi Injured

The absence of Manu Tuilagi in the England backline will be sorely felt during the Six Nations and Autumn Nations cup after the news on Thursday confirmed he will be sidelined for six months.

The role of the centre in the test game is ever-evolving position and is not an easy one. 

The modern game requires the inside centre to be skilful yet decisive while still being effective on defence and a strong ball carrier. Meanwhile, a modern outside centre has to be incredibly decisive on defence while still being a link man to the rest of his backline. While the requirements of the two positions are always evolving, one thing is for sure is that any player wanting to make needs to multi-skilled.

The least disruptive solution to the absence of Manu Tuilagi would see Eddie Jones field Owen Farrell and Henry Slade in the midfield during the Autumn Nations Cup and Six Nations. However, he does have plenty of capped options at his disposal. During the 2020 Six Nations earlier this year Jonathan Joseph was also involved with the squad along with Farrell, Tuilagi and Slade as well as Ollie Devoto.

Devoto hasn't been a regular starter for Exeter since the resumption of the season but his big ball carrying and playmaking ability has seen him be a favoured option for Eddie Jones in the past. 

Outside of the four players mentioned Elliot Daly has proved that he is more than capable at outside centre but has been primarily used as an outside back by Jones. With the injury to Tuilagi like to extend to the Six Nations next year, Jones could well turn to a young centre this year in order to build extra depth in the midfield.

Joe Marchant, 24

The only capped player out of the options we picked out, Joe Marchant has returned from his stint with the Blues in New Zealand. 

Marchant was brought into the England squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup and earned three test caps.

A well-rounded player Marchant could feature at inside and outside centre for England.

Cameron Redpath, 20


Already on Eddie Jones' radar, Cameron Redpath found his first-team minutes at Sale Sharks limited and jumped ship over to Bath. A gifted playmaker, Redpath could find himself backing up Owen Farrell in the #12 jersey or even competing for the #13 jersey in a role similar to Henry Slade.

A balanced runner, Redpath is a handy defender and real threat on attack. The youngster has already been invited to England camps and if he is to make his mark on the Bath squad, he could be well on his way to making test debut.

Luke James, 22

Another playmaker in the midfield, Luke James is also a strong ball carrier in Sale Sharks' backline and has shone for the side in recent times. Luke and brother Sam haven't quite caught the eye of Eddie Jones as of yet but both are gifted players and certainly have a future in English Rugby.

Young brother Luke has filled in brilliantly for Rohan Janse van Rensburg when the South African has been sidelined.

Fraser Dingwall, 21

Dingwall is another who was invited to train with England and would seem not to far away from earning his first test cap for England.

The exciting centre has impressed for Northampton Saints and with the addition of the excellent Matt Proctor in Northampton, Dingwall will certainly improve in seasons to come. 

He is also under the stewardship of Chris Boyd at the club with the former Hurricanes' coach having worked with some of the All Blacks' best.

Ollie Lawrence, 21

Built-in a similar mould to Jonathan Joseph, Ollie Lawerence has already impressed in the Premiership for Worcester Warriors.

An excellent runner, Lawerence runs beautiful lines in attack and is quickly developing into an excellent defender.

He also has an excellent step to add to his ever-growing list of attributes.  

Ollie Thorley, 24

A powerful and elusive runner, Ollie Thorley has been nothing short of sensational on the wing for Gloucester but could find himself featuring in the centres in years to come.

Gloucester already have some outstanding wingers in their ranks and have welcomed back Jonny May back to the club. Thorley has all the making of a world-class winger but has also proved to be a solid option at outside centre.

Although his future could well be set in stone on the wing it couldn't hurt to try the speedster at outside centre in switch similar to that of Tana Umaga for the All Blacks.  

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