TWICKENHAM, England — As news broke of the 10cm tear in Jack Nowell’s quad which puts his participation in the November Tests in grave doubt, Eddie Jones and Paul Gustard were sat at Twickenham Stoop, eyes trained on Harlequins winger Marland Yarde as he played Northampton.
A combination of Anthony Watson’s fractured jaw and Nowell’s torn quad — injuries both sustained on England’s Brighton training camp — means the chances are England will need a new-look partnership on the wings when South Africa come to town on Nov. 12.
Yarde and Bath’s Semesa Rokoduguni are in the driving seat to fill those two berths.
Yarde can be a frustrating player. Supremely talented, his form drifts from one end of the spectrum to the other and no more so than in an England jersey. For every memorable moment, such as his dart through Richie McCaw against New Zealand in Dunedin back in 2014, there is a dip, and he was dropped following the first Test of last summer’s tour of Australia.
But England coach Jones is a fan. Prior to the Brisbane Test back in June, Jones labelled him “very coachable” but also said he needed to sort out Yarde’s attitude, labelling him previously “too big for his boots”. Jones felt he had dealt with that saying Yarde was now back “down to earth” and would be a “really special player” for England.
The summer Test series passed without Yarde really grasping the opportunity but there is a sense — reinforced while watching him impress against Northampton on Saturday — that he is confident and finding Test-standard form.
His coach John Kingston certainly thinks so. “He was absolutely terrific,” Kingston said soon after their 20-9 victory.
“The season started a little bit slowly for him. He had a couple of knocks but the last couple of weeks he’s been fantastic.”
Yarde made 43 metres heading forward but his work in defence was also admirable, putting in five tackles. There was a moment when George North sniffed an opportunity on the left flank but after a 10 metre run up, he hit the Yarde brick wall and that move was stopped resolutely in its tracks.
“I’ve got a huge amount of time for him,” Kingston added. “He puts everything into his training and everything into his play. He was outstanding today.
“Marland’s always had unbelievably good intent to do the right thing. I’ve got a soft spot for him, he’s a good man. I think he’s really put his weight behind everything this year and he always gives 100 per cent.”
What may have also impressed Jones was how Yarde linked up with his England and Quins teammate Mike Brown.
There was a moment in the first half where Brown chased a long kick and just kept it from going into touch; flicked it back in-field and there was Yarde to kick long.
It is a partnership that looks increasingly likely to be reunited for England’s November opener against the Springboks.
“Marland’s a fine player, Mike’s a fine player,” Kingston said. “It’s not my job to pick the England side but hopefully they gave Eddie some difficult decisions to make.”
Yarde has had his opportunities in the past, but player, club and country alike will have a sense of optimism that this may be the moment he takes the next step.
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/17747985/marland-yarde-stakes-claim-england-wing-spot
Yarde stakes claim for England wing spot
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY