Exciting young English star Jack Clifford is hoping to earn his first call-up to the senior squad for the 2016 RBS Six Nations, which begins on Saturday February 6th with England’s trip to Murrayfield to face Scotland.
The Harlequins back-row forward has been in tremendous form at the start of the 2015/16 season and his ability to play at 6, 7 and 8 could make him a valuable member of Eddie Jones’ first England squad.
He produced a barnstorming, all-action display in the 39-39 draw with Gloucester at Twickenham over the Christmas period and the 22-year-old will be hoping to return to the home of rugby during the Six Nations when England take on Ireland (Saturday 27th February) and Wales (Saturday 12th March).
Clifford has Six Nations aspirations
Clifford was born in Australia but moved to England at a young age and has risen through the age groups at both England and Quins. In 2013 he captained an exceptionally talented England side to the Junior Rugby World Championships, beating Wales in an epic final.
His versatility has been evident this season with starts across the back-row, all showcasing his potent combination of speed, power and breakdown nous. The breakdown has long been an issue for England and Jones will be desperate to cure this ahead of the 2016 Six Nations.
Clifford is clearly aware of the importance of the breakdown in the modern game saying in a recent interview, “The breakdown is a hugely important part of the game and, no matter what jersey you are wearing, it is about knowing when to compete and taking your opportunity.”
The ability to make turnovers from anywhere in the back-row will be a huge asset come the Six Nations and Jones could employ the same tactics used by Australia in the World Cup and play two opensides.
A back-row containing Matt Kvesic and Clifford would certainly make England a huge threat at the ruck.
But Clifford isn’t getting ahead of himself saying, “It is flattering to be linked with England and all players have aspirations,”
“I have not spoken to anyone about England but playing international rugby is an ambition and a number of the under-20 side in 2013 have gone on to win their full caps.”
But there can be no doubt an exciting new-era is on the horizon for English rugby.