Alex Dombrandt makes major statement as Eddie Jones faces No8 selection dilemma
Over the summer, Eddie Jones’ No.8 options multiplied, leaving him with some tricky selection decisions over the year ahead.
What was mostly just a 50/50 call between Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds during the Six Nations became slightly more complex with Billy Vunipola’s return to form and selection for England’s tour of Australia in July. With both Dombrandt and Simmonds out of that tour with injury, the Saracens No.8 grabbed his opportunity with both hands, having a standout tour and reviving his England carrier. Fast forward a few weeks and Montpellier No.8 Zach Mercer signs for Gloucester for the 2023/24 season, which makes him eligible for the 2023 World Cup next year.
Now Jones has to choose between four Test standard, and maybe even world class, No.8s over the year ahead, with the reality being that all four probably will not go to France next year. This does not even begin to include some of the peripheral No.8 options like Alfie Barbeary who throw a few surprises over the year ahead.
In what is a huge year upcoming, Dombrandt made a great start last for Harlequins on Saturday against Newcastle Falcons in their Gallagher Premiership opener, scoring a crucial late try and making 17 carries. The 25-year-old’s performance caught the eye former England No.8 Lawrence Dallaglio.
“He looked very good,” Dallaglio said on BT Sport. “He played excellently last season. He got injured in the last few weeks of the season and would have had to sit there and watch Billy Vunipola play well for England and get the shirt back. So maybe there’s that little bit of extra hunger and desire but he was outstanding.
“This is what he does best. He just picks alive, probably better than most players in the country. But his overall contribution, we look at that graphic contact metres, he really took the game and when it matters most because this was a tricky match for Quins, they were losing going into the last few minutes, Alex Dombrandt steps up and comes up with the winning score, big season for him.”
It’s set to be a BIG season for @Alex_dombrandt 💪
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) September 13, 2022