Electric Henry Arundell “has a bit of Jason Robinson about him”

Henry Arundell scores a senate try against Australia – Gary Day/AP

Finish the old and make way for the new? Given that England’s 29-man squad to prepare for Italy’s arrival in the Six Nations on Sunday has just one uncapped player, such a statement may be a bit off the mark. , but with the hasty recall of 20-year-old Henry. Arundell and the omission of England’s most capped player, Ben Youngs, head coach Steve Borthwick has shown he won’t be swayed by selection experience or reputation.

Youngs, with 122 England caps, has been a mainstay for the national team since his debut in 2010 while Arundell, the 20-year-old Irish wonderkid from London with just three caps, is a relative rookie, with hooker Jack Walker – an unused substitute in the Calcutta Cup defeat – the only uncapped member of Borthwick’s squad to face Italy.

Last season, the Exiles’ utility back made European rugby fans sit up and take notice when he single-handedly crossed Toulon to score the season’s Challenge Cup solo try. Arundell’s call then went global, as he bulldozed two Wallaby defenders before leaving James O’Connor for dead en route to scoring a try on his first touch of the ball on his debut for England in Australia.

Rugby was witnessing the birth of a superstar, a one-of-a-kind talent. Eddie Jones, Borthwick’s predecessor, hasn’t always had the ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ mindset, but his successor clearly is, with Arundell set to leave the bench at Twickenham on Sunday.

England captain Owen Farrell agrees. When asked on Wednesday if Arundell was someone with a real X-factor, Farrell said the 20-year-old’s full package reminded him of one of England rugby’s most devastating strikers, Jason Robinson.

“He has [X-factor], yeah, definitely,” Farrell said. “It has everything you need for a racing game; people have speed, strength, can mount tackles, feet. And usually people have one – maybe two – it has everything.

“You saw that amazing try he scored against Toulon and you thought ‘brilliant’, but then he came on the Australian tour and he was doing it in training every other day. When he got the ball in his own 22 and he was against you, you thought, ‘Anything can happen here.’ There aren’t too many people who do that, who put everyone on the edge of their seat when they get the ball. He is one. I don’t want to compare him to anyone, but I do remember growing up, watching Wigan, then in rugby union, every time Jason Robinson received the ball something happened, I’m not comparing him, but he has a bit of that about him, Henry.

Jason Robinson of England is tackled by Elton Flatley of Australia - Nick Laham/Getty Images

Jason Robinson of England is tackled by Elton Flatley of Australia – Nick Laham/Getty Images

Even though Farrell stopped short of a direct comparison, if Arundell can emulate Robinson’s achievements – a World Cup, a Premiership and almost 100 caps for England in both codes of sport – then England have a rugby dynamite stick on their hands. Borthwick’s side struggled for wide penetration against Scotland – an observation laid bare and hammered home by opposing winger Duhan van der Merwe’s terrific two-try display – and the head coach clearly sought to rectify this immediately.

Arundell’s rapid development could continue in earnest as early as Sunday against Italy. Although the London Irish full-back was only officially recalled to the squad last Sunday following the loss to Scotland, he had been in and around the England squad towards the end of last week. The 20-year-old’s expedition is proof of how highly rated he is by the England coaching staff. Kevin Sinfield, Borthwick’s defense coach, hasn’t worked long with the tyro, but already likes what he’s seeing.

“I probably only had three sessions with [him]so my knowledge is only based on what I’ve seen in training, but he’s an exceptional person,” he said. “Henry is super talented and very, very good as a rugby player.

“I think we will have an indication of [his ceiling] over the next few weeks, but I was very impressed with the way he handled his business. The coaching staff briefed me on what it was like at camp before and on the summer tour. We have real talent on our hands. owen [Farrell] know him better than I do, but I’ve really enjoyed working with him so far.”

England’s summer tour, world titles and a likely Six Nations debut – all in less than a year. Arundell’s ascent is almost as fast as the feet that carry it. And, if he comes off the bench against Italy on Sunday as expected, he will once again have the chance to prove that good enough is old enough.

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