Harlequins star Cadan Murley tipped to make England grade under Steve Borthwick

Catching the eye: Cadan Murley will hope to impress new England coach Steve Borthwick  (Getty Images)
Catching the eye: Cadan Murley will hope to impress new England coach Steve Borthwick (Getty Images)

Tabai Matson has tipped “complete package” Cadan Murley to make the Test-level transition, as Steve Borthwick’s new England regime takes shape.

Murley’s supreme finishing skills constantly catch the eye at Harlequins, with the 23-year-old already boasting eight Gallagher Premiership tries this term.

Quins head coach Matson hailed the uncapped Murley’s all-round game as more than suited to the Test arena, crucially backing the fleet-footed flier’s capability off, as well as on, the ball.

Murley was among the 45-strong group of players to join a check-in England camp earlier this week, where Borthwick and right-hand man Kevin Sinfield continued to set out their national team blueprint.

Borthwick is expected to name his Six Nations squad on January 16, and Matson admitted Quins are hopeful on Murley’s behalf.

“Cadan’s standard is just so consistently high on both sides of the ball,” Matson told Standard Sport. “Every week he goes out and delivers, and he’s still young. He’s excellent, and you hope that his consistency gives him the platform to go to another level.

“If you can’t defend in this league, you won’t be here long. Cadan is one of our best attackers, but he’s also one of our best defenders, and he’s great under the high ball, so he’s the complete package.”

Murley was among a nucleus of gifted attacking talents drawn into England’s wider squad by former boss Eddie Jones, only to struggle to force a senior breakthrough. Jones was sacked in December, after England’s five wins in 12 Tests represented their worst calendar-year return since 2008, and replaced by former England captain Borthwick.

Both Borthwick and Sinfield have been at pains to stress the importance of pastoral care for their players, in a clear departure from Jones’s ruthless approach, and Matson believes that extra player focus will draw clear dividends for the Test team.

“Player wellbeing is vitally important, even for a national team that isn’t in camp for that long,” said Matson. “When players are looked after holistically, they play better.

“You hope that Cadan’s in the mix there somewhere. Going to the camp this week means he’s in the eyesight.

“I’m really intrigued on how Steve will select the Six Nations group. He can’t change the wider Elite Player Squad that much under the regulations. He’ll have people that he’s worked with that he trusts and that he has a history with, of course.

“He doesn’t know Cadan. Cadan hasn’t been in his group, on his watch. I hope Cadan goes to those camps and shows himself as the good man and good professional that he is. We’re hopeful.”

Jones bombastically rejected the Premiership as a Test-match proving ground, insisting England’s top flight was not a strong barometer of international potential.

Matson has other ideas, expecting a clash close to Test intensity when Quins host high-flying Sale at The Stoop on Sunday.

“I think the Premiership is a fantastic stepping stone for Test rugby,” he said. “It’s often of Test-match intensity, the physicality, the quality of the set-piece and the defensive ferocity.

“We’ve got a red-hot Sale coming, we’ve lost two in a row. If you’re serious about a top-four finish, you’ve got to stop the rot.