England autumn international player ratings: Who will Eddie Jones take to France for the World Cup?

England looks dejected after the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London, England - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images
England looks dejected after the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London, England - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

After a disappointing campaign which produced a healthy win over Japan, two poor defeats to Argentina and South Africa and a wild draw with New Zealand, which England players performed and look certain to travel to the Rugby World Cup, and who has work to do if they want to be in France next September?

Freddie Steward

Clearly England’s best player at the moment and the only one who would come close to nudging into a World XV. The Springboks game was the first time he had any drops all autumn. Turns 22 next month and his potential is exciting. Scored against Japan and in that wild comeback against New Zealand. 7.5/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Jack Nowell

Dropped out late against Japan, which actually might have been the only game where he would have seen any action. England in an attacking sense simply didn’t use him enough - Nowell had no carries against the All Blacks and picked on in the kicking game. Plays a key role as a vice-captain but the decision to bring in Freeman for more pace against South Africa was telling. 5.5/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Jonny May

Rugby Union - International - England v New Zealand - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 19, 2022 England's Jonny May in action with New Zealand's Mark Telea - Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Rugby Union - International - England v New Zealand - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 19, 2022 England's Jonny May in action with New Zealand's Mark Telea - Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Fairly incredible that he recovered so quickly from that dislocated elbow – Jones initially wondered if he might be out until the Six Nations – but May barely had a line break to remember, which sums up England’s autumn. Definitely rusty. Perhaps with more match time, he covers across to catch Rieko Ioane in that great All Blacks try. England will need the fully-firing version of May in the Six Nations. 5.5/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Joe Cokanasiga

Had a strange autumn. Very good against Argentina, dropped and brought back in to face Japan, then left out of the squad for the last two games entirely. His try against Argentina was one of England’s sharper attacking moments of the autumn. England gave him loads of touches in that game, 13, and he did well. So why drop him? Also set up a Smith try against Japan with an offload. 7/10

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World Cup verdict: Work to do

Tommy Freeman

Foot injury suffered in October kept him out of the side until South Africa, having stood out over the summer. Offers pace but by the time he was replaced a minute into the second half Freeman had not had a single carry. England need to get more out of him in the spring. 5/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Manu Tuilagi

Few alarm bells are beginning to ring about how effective Tuilagi can still be at cracking defences open. It’s not that Tuilagi isn’t seeing enough of the ball, he just isn’t breaking enough tackles. The word from the England camp has been that Tuilagi is in excellent condition and hasn’t missed a training session. But he hardly seems to be playing at his best. 5/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Henry Slade

Had enough positive contributions from the bench over the autumn that you felt he had earned a start against the Springboks, but not to be, scoring a late consolation try instead. Hacked on for Smith to score against Japan and having him on the field seems to give England a bit more width (and, dare we say it, adventure). Wasn’t in the squad originally but should be considered for a start in the Six Nations. 7/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Guy Porter

Rugby Union - International - England v Japan - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 12, 2022 England's Guy Porter celebrates scoring their fifth - REUTERS/Toby Melville
Rugby Union - International - England v Japan - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 12, 2022 England's Guy Porter celebrates scoring their fifth - REUTERS/Toby Melville

The industrious centre had the ball stripped from him on his first carry against Japan. Thereafter, he did very little wrong. Porter bagged two tries in that game and then delivered an energetic cameo as England chased down New Zealand, zipping from touchline to touchline to create space for others. 6.5/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Owen Farrell

England’s latest centurion had his best game in the rout against Japan when he ended up creating a couple of tries. And the rest was… fine? His forced pass did lead to Santiago Carreras’ try in the loss to Argentina. Jones will never drop him given the leadership qualities he offers, but England need more creativity out of him. 5.5/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Marcus Smith

The positive view is that Smith will be better in the long run after a tricky month where it felt like the Smith you see at club level and the one in an England shirt are almost two entirely different players – apart from that wild comeback against the All Blacks. His kicking game has felt a little forced, particularly against Japan. England aren’t maximising what he can offer. 5.5/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Jack van Poortvliet

A bit like Smith, hopefully the short-term pain will lead to prospering in the long run. Cracking moment for him sniping clear to score against Argentina, while the All Blacks game taught him several lessons and he had a bit of a shocker. There’s no obvious weakness to his game, he just needs time. England have to give him every possible minute on the field. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Ben Youngs

Mixed bag against Argentina led to him making three appearances off the bench in the following weeks, and that feels like the role he’ll continue to play as the finisher behind Van Poortvliet or whoever starts at scrum-half. Set up Steward well against the All Blacks. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Ellis Genge

Ellis Genge of England speaks to their team mates after the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London - Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images
Ellis Genge of England speaks to their team mates after the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London - Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Genge continues to grow as a leader for England in spite of what goes on around him, with his abrasive carrying a particularly important source of energy. Will have been frustrated with how the scrum played out while he was on the pitch in the All Blacks game, though. 7/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Mako Vunipola

This might have been a disastrous score were it not for a phenomenal display from the bench to confound New Zealand, because Vunipola’s scrummaging stunted England throughout the autumn, beginning with a penalty against Argentina. He is valued for his game intelligence, but has such an obvious achilles heel. 5/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Luke Cowan-Dickie

The combative hooker had never before started three England matches in succession, which reflects his misfortune with injury – as well as the longevity and quality of Jamie George. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Jamie George

For so long a central figure for England, George was peripheral this autumn. Indeed, that he was brought back into the fold so quickly following a foot injury only underlined a glaring lack of depth at hooker. 5.5/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Jack Singleton

That Singleton spent all 80 minutes of the loss to Argentina on the bench simply reinforced England’s paper-thin plans at hooker. N/A

World Cup verdict: Unlikely

Kyle Sinckler

After a debilitating back injury had plagued him since the Six Nations, it seemed as though Sinckler needed this campaign to settle back into the Test fold. He battled a hip issue doggedly against the Springboks. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Will Stuart

England's Will Stuart scores his sides third try during the Autumn International match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday November 19, 2022 - Bradley Collyer/PA Wire
England's Will Stuart scores his sides third try during the Autumn International match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday November 19, 2022 - Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

The tighthead was clearly rushed back from a knee injury, a gamble that initially paid off with two close-range tries in a bench cameo against New Zealand. Stuart hung tough the following week, but South Africa were too strong in the set-piece exchanges. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Joe Heyes

Having impressed in Australia, this autumn was a step backwards for Heyes because it seemed as though Jones was reluctant to trust him. He conceded a scrum penalty upon arrival against Argentina and was only granted a brief appearance against Japan before Stuart returned. 5/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Alex Coles

At 23, Coles will come again and will learn from a challenging month. His shifts between lock and the back row epitomised England’s experimentation - or uncertainty - and South Africa was always going to be a difficult assignment. Coles committed some nervy mistakes, some due to inexperience, yet possesses clear promise. 5/10

World Cup verdict: Unlikely

Jonny Hill

Having appeared to have established himself over the second two Tests of the series victory over the Wallabies in July, this was a poor autumn for Hill. He has talent, and actually began well against South Africa, but conceded two avoidable penalties that encapsulated England’s tendency to shoot themselves in the foot. 5/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

David Ribbans

Two flicked offloads against the All Blacks showed both eye-catching dexterity and a refreshing mind–set, underlining that Ribbans felt immediately comfortable and willing to be himself for England. That bodes well, and he can expect more caps - and perhaps even a start - in the Six Nations. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Maro Itoje

Maro Itoje of England wins a line out during the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London, England - Henry Browne/Getty Images
Maro Itoje of England wins a line out during the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London, England - Henry Browne/Getty Images

On the evidence of this autumn, Itoje is still adjusting to the added responsibility of calling the lineout and striving to marry those characteristic, momentum-swinging moments with set-piece composure. He must take some blame for the crippling lineout wobbles against New Zealand and Eben Etzebeth eclipsed him in the final match. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Sam Simmonds

There was, finally, an attempt to give Simmonds something like his Exeter Chiefs template by switching him to blindside flanker and teaming him up with Billy Vunipola. It did not quite click and we did not see if for long enough to make a sound judgement anyway. For all his endeavour and toughness, Simmonds is yet to translate his domestic influence to Test matches. 5.5/10 

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Tom Curry

Busy and tenacious with flashes of skill on both sides of the ball, such as his deft handling to slice up New Zealand and a couple of opportunistic jackal turnovers against Argentina and the Springboks. Saw yellow in the final game and struggled to impose himself consistently, which cannot have been helped by the moving parts around him. 6/10

World Cup verdict: Off to France

Jack Willis

The demise of Wasps left him compromised by a lack of game-time prior to the autumn and Jones’ strategy of picking three lineout jumpers also squeezed out Willis. He picked up five minutes against Argentina before contributing to the fightback against the All Blacks. N/A

World Cup verdict: Work to do

Billy Vunipola

The younger Vunipola began with a quartet of handling errors in the loss to Argentina before being dropped to the bench for Japan. Grew into the New Zealand clash after an inaccurate start but quiet when South Africa came to town. Another that did not build on his efforts in Australia. 5/10

World Cup verdict: Work to do

What players do you think should make the cut for the World Cup? Join the conversation in the comments section below