ENGLAND coach Stuart Lancaster could turn to code-switching Saracens centre Joel Tomkins to solve his midfield conundrum in next month’s autumn international series at Twickenham.
Tomkins has been included as one of three uncapped centres in England’s 34-man squad, along with Henry Trinder and Luther Burrell, with regular starters Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt sidelined through injury.
Billy Twelvetrees is almost certain to be handed the No12 shirt against Australia on 2 November, but with a spot alongside him up for grabs Lancaster feels Tomkins, who was playing rugby league with Wigan only two years ago, is ready to seize his chance.
“Joel has been very effective in some very big games for Saracens,” said Lancaster.
“He’s got the temperament and the game understanding now.
“Joel came into the squad during the Six Nations so he understands our systems and structures. He understands the environment.
“We’ve got some way to go before we narrow it down but he’s a genuine option for us.”
Trinder’s selection is something of a surprise, after he was initially overlooked for a place in the Saxons and elite player squads, but his strong start to the season with Gloucester has prompted his inclusion.
Exeter flanker Tom Johnson has been recalled having earned the last of his five caps for the Red Rose in the 20-14 defeat by Australia at Twickenham 11 months ago.
Dan Cole, Alex Corbisiero, Joe Marler, Mako Vunipola, David Wilson, Dylan Hartley, Tom Youngs, David Attwood, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling, Tom Johnson, Matt Kvesic, Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola, Tom Wood
Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Ben Foden, Alex Goode, Christian Wade, Marland Yade, Luther Burrell, Kyle Eastmond, Henry Trinder, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Freddie Burns, Owen Farrell, Toby Flood, Danny Care, Lee Dickson, Ben Youngs