Six Nations 2015: Jack Nowell in line for England return against Ireland
Exeter Chiefs wing expected to replace Jonny May for Triple Crown clash showdown in Dublin at the beginning of March
Jack Nowell is set to return for England when they face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in the RBS 6 Nations on Sunday 1 March.
The Exeter Chiefs wing has been training with the Red Rose at Pennyhill Park, but has yet to appear in this year’s championship with Anthony Watson and Jonny May starting in their wins over Wales and Italy.
He is very good under the high ball, he finds his way to get in the game and beats players one-on-one.
But May is expected to lose his to jersey Nowell, who he partnered in last year’s championship, when England line up for a Triple Crown and potential title showdown at the Aviva Stadium.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster refused to confirm that the 21-year-old would replace May when he spoke to the media on Tuesday, but talked up the Exeter star, who last featured for England in the final round of the 2014 Six Nations in Rome.
“Jack Nowell had his best game of the season for Exeter at weekend where he has been playing 13,” Lancaster said.
“That is [Exeter head coach] Rob Baxter’s way of getting him in the game more. He is one of their most potent attacking weapons.
“He has got the tendonitis in his knee sorted and that has helped his power and pace, but he is just a very good footballer.
“He is very good under the high ball, he finds his way to get in the game and beats players one-on-one.
“And thinking back to the Ireland game last year, the kicking game of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton was excellent and he dealt very well with the things thrown at him.
“He has just got a very good temperament.
“Ireland’s half-backs are excellent; they are both British Lions for a reason.
“Sexton showed his quality and class against France at the weekend, not to play for 12 weeks and then come back and play so well.
“His and Conor Murray’s kicking games are both excellent.
“As a consequence, you have to be absolutely on your game in terms of your back-field coverage because they will try to exploit any weaknesses in your armoury.”
Lancaster also admitted his disappointment at May’s poor performance against Italy, despite England running out 47-17 winners at Twickenham, with the Gloucester wing spurning a three-on-one overlap for an easy try-scoring chance.
“It was simple execution,” Lancaster said of May’s missed opportunity.
“You’ve got a decision to make: you run at the last defender and he either commits to you and you pass the ball, or he doesn’t so you run over the line and score.
“Every player knows they have to play well every game,.
“One of the good things is that we get to assess form with all those guys going back to their clubs.
“We don’t have to decide until next week; it’s early days yet.
“We are keeping our options open. I wouldn’t just single out that position.”
Seven days would give him enough time in the build-up, but that’s hypothetical at the moment, because he hasn’t started the process, so we’ll wait and see.
Saracens full-back Alex Goode (pictured above) is another player in contention for the Dublin clash as England wait on the availability of Harlequins star Mike Brown.
Brown is still experiencing symptoms of the concussion after a collision in the first half, which curtailed his afternoon.
The 29-year-old is not expected to train this week and must come through return-to-play protocols before he can be a realistic consideration for selection against Ireland.
“We’re going to have to see how Mike Brown comes through the return to play protocols,” Lancaster said.
“He’ll go through that graduated return and he hasn’t started that yet.
“He won’t take any part in training this week.
“So if he starts all that tomorrow then he goes through that process, so that would be from the bike and onwards.
“Seven days would give him enough time in the build-up, but that’s hypothetical at the moment, because he hasn’t started the process, so we’ll wait and see.
“He’s not been symptom-free for 24 hours so we wouldn’t start the protocol until that was the case.
“We’ll be guided by the medics’ advice and opinion and we’d support it.”