Bath wing Anthony Watson, still uncapped but unlikely to stay that way for much longer judging by the England hierarchy’s intense interest in his progress, returns from injury for Friday night’s Premiership match with Saracens.
Watson can expect at least 20 minutes of game time off the bench at the Recreation Ground in perhaps the standout fixture of the league campaign to date. If he settles in quickly, the odds about him facing one of the major touring sides from the southern hemisphere at Twickenham next month will begin to shorten.
The England head coach, Stuart Lancaster, will be spoilt for choice when it comes to running an eye over the wing contenders. Chris Ashton and David Strettle, two experienced Test hands, are the wide men in the Londoners’ ranks while the Fijian-born Semesa Rokoduguni – another player on the England radar – starts for the home side. He is playing the best rugby of his career outside the midfield of George Ford, Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph.
Saracens, the only unbeaten side in the league, travel without their one-man barricade, Brad Barritt. The England centre is struggling with a minor calf problem, so the American multitasker Chris Wyles fills in.
“Our attacking game is all about execution: we got it right against Leicester a fortnight ago and wrong for periods against Northampton last weekend,” said Bath’s Dave Attwood, the in-form lock pressing for a Test return next month. “There will be no room for error because apart from playing Saracens away, it’s the biggest test of execution we’ll face all season. They are disciplined in defence, so precise. They rarely miss a beat.”
Bath have made a change at full-back, where Gavin Henson is rewarded for his fine cameo at Franklin’s Gardens six days ago with a start ahead of Luke Arscott.
The Exeter flanker Tom Johnson is to undergo neck surgery next week and will miss the autumn Tests.Reuse content