STUART Lancaster has revealed he is ready to promote Freddie Burns to England’s Elite Player Squad in January.
Burns is ready to make his England debut from the bench in Saturday’s New Zealand clash at Twickenham (kick-off 2.30pm), with Owen Farrell starting at fly-half.
Gloucester’s livewire playmaker has only been able to step up to the full squad for England’s final autumn international as an injury replacement for Leicester’s Toby Flood.
But England boss Lancaster has all-but admitted Burns is nailed on to join the full EPS at the next opportunity for changes, after the turn of the year.
Lancaster explained: “Freddie has been outstanding in the Premiership this season.
“He brings a special quality in terms of his creativity and his kicking game and game management have improved.
“It’s been hard for us to integrate him. He’s had to work his way through the Saxons into the senior squad but now he’s got his opportunity.
“And I think he’s in a pretty good position where the EPS will be concerned come January.”
Lancaster only selected two out-and-out fly-halves in his current full-time squad, Flood and Farrell.
The England boss is unlikely to dispense with either – leaving centres Jordan Turner-Hall and Anthony Allen as the potential men under threat.
Burns’ rapid advancement this term has clearly caught England off guard, but it should not come as such a huge surprise to anyone at Kingsholm.
The Premiership’s leading points-scorer and current player of the month will always be a big miss as and when he is away on international duty though.
And in the long-run one of Nigel Davies’ biggest challenges will be to ensure his squad has robust enough cover to accommodate what could well be a consistently growing number of internationals in the coming year or two.