Six Saints who will feel aggrieved by their England snub

When the EPS squad was named last month, it looked like England might need to add a hint of green, black and gold to their home kit.

Wednesday, 26th November 2014, 12:51 pm
MISSING OUT - Calum Clark and Alex Waller have been unable to break into England's matchday squads this autumn (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Such was the form of the likes of Lee Dickson, Stephen Myler and Luther Burrell, there was a feeling that the national team and Northampton could merge successfully.

But, a couple of months down the line, there is a list of disappointed men as long as one of Courtney Lawes’ legs.

Few Franklin’s Gardens stars have been given a chance this autumn, with only regular starters Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood and Lawes getting game time.

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For Dickson, Myler, Burrell and others, England have not come calling, instead casting aside players who claimed the Premiership title last season.

And for each individual, there are plenty of reasons to feel aggrieved.

Here we highlight the six Saints whose Red Rose careers have not been allowed to blossom this autumn.

Alex Waller

The Kettering-born prop wasn’t in the EPS squad but did get the chance to train with England as injury cover, though he was quickly sent back to Saints without so much as a sniff at a place in the Test team. What will make his omission hard to take is that he has picked up where he left off last season, when he scored the winning try in the Premiership final, and can consider himself unlucky to be below Wasps’ Matt Mullan in the pecking order. Joe Marler, who got the bulk of the loosehead game time, has more England experience, but can not be said to have been in far better form than Waller.

Player’s likely annoyance rating: 7/10

Calum Clark

If he was a footballer, Clark would have retired from the international scene by now, citing lack of opportunities and stating his unwillingness to continue joining up with squads knowing he has no chance of making the team. The passion-fuelled flanker will be wondering what more he has to do to get a shot. Injury and suspension have hampered him in the past, but this autumn he was free of both those issues and playing some of his best rugby. His Saints team-mates have been glowing in their praise for a man who does plenty of unseen work, winning turnovers for fun. This tenacious turnover specialist will be disappointed not to have even got a place in the squad against Samoa, with the Lazarus-like James Haskell the preferred choice.

Player’s likely annoyance rating: 9/10

Lee Dickson

The Haribo-loving scrum-half who started all of England’s autumn Tests last time round has not even had a look-in this year, with Danny Care (fair enough), Ben Youngs and Richard Wigglesworth all getting a go in the nine shirt. The Saints man’s up-tempo play and chirpy nature look to have been missed by England and he will now be keen to scrap harder than ever to win his place back for the Six Nations. However, he’ll have to go some if the autumn evidence is anything to go by.

Player’s likely annoyance rating: 9/10

Stephen Myler

It looks like the England ship has sailed as far as this man is concerned, which is quite staggering considering how he has been playing for Saints. Man of the match in the Amlin Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership finals victories last season, his only Test appearance remains the minutes he got from the bench in Argentina in the summer of 2013. Myler’s face clearly doesn’t fit for some reason - he continues to be pegged as a steady, but unspectacular fly-half - and England could live to regret that if Owen Farrell’s poor form continues and the enigmatic George Ford fails to take his chance in key games at 10.

Player’s likely annoyance rating: 9/10

Luther Burrell

A regular at 12 for Saints, the England coaches are clearly not seeing what their Northampton counterparts do on a weekly basis. There is a reluctance to utilise bulldozer Burrell at inside centre, with Owen Farrell preferred there for the Samoa game. That would have been an ideal opportunity for Burrell, who scored three tries in five Six Nations appearances in 2014, to work his way back into the squad following a hand injury. But the barrel-chested centre hasn’t been given a chance to roll back into the side and has every right to feel surprised.

Player’s likely annoyance rating: 9/10

Ben Foden

With Mike Brown a seemingly indellible selection in the England 15 shirt, there can be a worry that his rivals will be left undercooked should the swashbuckling Harlequins player get injured. No other option has been tried this autumn, with Foden and Saracens’ Alex Goode sent packing. And that might be a decision Lancaster comes to regret if Brown picks up a problem. Foden has shown he can do it on the biggest stage before and his form for Saints should have earned him at least a little game time, even if it was just to test out other options.

Player’s likely annoyance rating: 7/10