Six Nations: ‘Electric freak’ Henry Arundell backed to wreak havoc on Ireland in first England start

Six Nations: ‘Electric freak’ Henry Arundell backed to wreak havoc on Ireland in first England start

England will unleash their “electric freak” Henry Arundell against Ireland in Dublin, with Test team-mates and club coaches alike marvelling at his natural-born finishing ability.

Arundell will make his first Test start on his seventh England cap at the Aviva Stadium, as Steve Borthwick’s men bid to hit back from last weekend’s record home defeat by France.

The Red Rose side must offer a riposte from the 53-10 France hammering and also face up to the world’s top-ranked team in Ireland. Andy Farrell’s Ireland are aiming to complete a second Grand Slam in five years, leaving England with collective backs to the wall.

London Irish star Arundell faces a real baptism of fire then, but both Northampton’s Lewis Ludlam and Exiles rugby director Declan Kidney have few doubts of the former Harrow School pupil’s abilities.

“He’s electric,” said Ludlam. “I remember one of the first training sessions, pre-Australia tour. He was running and I thought, ‘Oh I’ve got him’, and then he properly just went and took off.

“I’ve never seen anyone take off like that in the flesh that close to you as well. So he’s a freak in terms of his speed, but I think he’s got a great head on his shoulders as well.

“He’s very composed, he’s very measured in the way he does things. And it’s had to believe he’s only 20, the way he speaks, the way he composes himself as well. So looking forward to seeing how he goes, and chuffed that he’s got his chance as well.”

Arundell’s Irish team-mates and coaches almost cannot wait to see what ridiculous game-breaking feat he will pull off next in training. Ludlam admitted to not being quite so keen however.

“It’s not much fun for us slow guys when he takes off!” he said. “But he’s fantastic, he’s got the ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat, create something from nothing and he’s got great ability to find space quickly and at pace as well. It’s exciting to watch.”

Arundell could easily have missed the Six Nations due to a problematic foot injury, but the 20-year-old's quick healing powers have hurtled him back into the Red Rose ranks.

Exiles boss Kidney hailed Arundell’s drive to recover in time for the Six Nations, having undergone surgery in December.

“I’m delighted for him and his family. He has shown great resilience over the last couple of years in coming through some significant injuries,” Kidney told Standard Sport. “And you have to work hard to come through that and still keep your confidence.

Henry Arundell dives over the line against Italy (Getty Images)
Henry Arundell dives over the line against Italy (Getty Images)

“He’s come through the age groups here, there’s been good work with James Lightfoot-Brown, Les and Brad as well in his time with us.

“His time has been truncated to a degree because of the injuries, but that’s why with such little time under his belt he’s managed to get to this level. So it’s a great compliment to him, his family and all the people he’s been working with.

“He’s a young player and knows he has areas of his game to work on, but he also has X-factor about him, that has obviously made him attractive to Steve and the other England coaches at this stage of his career.

“He’s pretty unassuming, he gets on well with his team-mates, he has good people around him. And he has a lot of very good non rugby-specific attributes too. As well as the rugby elements he has a lot of other qualities that could help him going forward.”