England head coach Eddie Jones witnessed first-hand the credentials of his international stars as Nathan Hughes and Dan Robson both scored tries in Wasps’ Champions Cup defeat to Leinster.
Following on from Thursday’s team announcement, which included five Wasps players in Jones’ 35-man squad, both Hughes and Robson found themselves on the scoresheet in an international fixture brimming with capped stars.
With the chips down after a roaring display from Ireland’s Gary Ringrose and Sean Cronin, Nathan Hughes popped up to cut the deficit following some neat work from Italy’s Michele Campagnaro.
The 25-year-old 36-times capped international set away Hughes to find a gap in the Leinster line and he burst away to score. Perhaps a message to the watching England coach?
Keen not to be outdone, uncapped scrum-half Robson was eager to follow pursuit, searching for a gap in the line before guiding his way past the Leinster defence to score.
The result may not have gone Wasps way, but with England internationals Elliot Daly and Joe Launchbury also gaining minutes – perhaps facing a side of Leinster’s quality could prove to be the perfect preparation for facing Ireland at the Arriva in their Guinness Six Nations opener.
Unfortunately, from Jones’ perspective, there was a slight blot on the copybook with Brad Shields ruled out ahead of kick-off with an injury.
But the performance of Jonathan Joseph will undoubtedly offer some consolation with the centre continuing his return from injury in fine fettle in Bath’s defeat to Toulouse.
The 27-year-old centre isn’t available for the trip to Ireland, but with his fitness improving by the day, he will no doubt offer a welcome selection headache heading into the rest of the Championship.
Zach Mercer, who made his England debut during the Autumn international, was also on the scoresheet for Bath in Toulouse alongside compatriot Semesa Rokoduguni.