Eddie Jones has been urged to cap English rugby’s new wonderkid Henry Arundell in Australia this summer by a former World Cup winner who knows a thing or two about the need for speed.
Arundell – still just 19 – raced 114 yards for a length-of-the-field try in London Irish’s Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat by Toulon on Sunday.
It was another reminder of the teenager’s astonishing ability. England’s 2003 hero Jason Robinson was not the only one left gobsmacked by Arundell’s moment of brilliance.
England World Cup hero Jason Robinson (above) has urged Eddie Jones to cap Henry Arundell
Full-back Arundell (right) scored a try belying his 19 years as London Irish lost to Toulon
Robinson scored England’s try when they lifted the William Webb Ellis Cup 19 years ago and believes the country’s current head coach Jones has a special talent at his fingertips.
Arundell qualifies for England, Scotland, Wales and Cyprus. Robinson insists he must not be lost to any other nation.
‘If he (Arundell) is going to be producing moments like that then you have to give him a chance to see what he’s capable of doing at the next level,’ Robinson, now 47, told Sportsmail.
‘I know there is a bit of a fight on now in terms of who he commits to. You wouldn’t want someone like that slipping through the net.
Arundell could be fast-tracked into the England set-up after a sensational start to his career
‘I hope he gets an opportunity and if England don’t tie him down then there will be a big queue of people waiting.
‘It’s not very often I watch a game and get really excited, but I have to admit that’s the most excited I’ve been for a long time.
‘Seeing a try like that is very special and I’m sure we’ll be seeing replays for a long time to come.’
Virtually unheard of outside of Irish at the start of the season, Arundell’s stunning performances with the London club and England’s Under-20 side had already caught Jones’ eye even before his moment of brilliance at the Stade Felix Mayol.
Arundell could be capped by Scotland, Wales or Cyprus unless England’s Eddie Jones acts fast
Sportsmail understands Jones has made personal contact with Arundell – who like Robinson can play both full-back and wing – and is confident he wants to wear the Red Rose at senior level. That could come as soon as July’s three-Test series with Australia.
‘If there is one thing every team needs it’s people who can run the full length of the field and create something from nothing,’ said Robinson, who was famed for his electric turn of foot.
‘He (Arundell) certainly did that at the weekend. The key thing for him – without bursting any bubble at all – is doing it consistently.
‘There is a difference between club and European rugby and then international rugby, but the try was just outstanding.
Fleet-footed Arundell left a trail of Toulon defenders in his wake on his way to touching down
‘It made my day and I’m not an Irish fan. He’s set the bar very high now and he’s got a lot to live up to but he deserves all the praise he’s getting.’
Arundell, who hails from the south west and played club rugby at Bradford-on-Avon, has only just finished his education at the prestigious Harrow School.
England lock Maro Itoje is also a Harrow old boy and you wouldn’t bet against the pair soon being international team-mates.
Arundell has come through the age grade systems with both Irish and England and has quickly gathered a reputation for superb individual tries.
His Toulon effort wasn’t his first 100-metre score of the season. He produced a similar try against Scotland in the Under-20 Six Nations and has been no stranger to crossing the whitewash for Irish both in the Gallagher Premiership and in the club’s run to the Premiership Rugby Cup final.
That said, his try on the Cote d’Azur almost had to be seen to be believed. It was no surprise the video quickly went viral on social media.
With his team 19-13 down in the 74th minute, Arundell picked up possession just a metre off his own line and proceeded to show an outrageous turn of foot to leave attempted tacklers in his wake.
Prospect Arundell was little-known outside of Irish before his breakthrough campaign started
Arundell – who has been managed carefully by Irish and made just two Premiership starts – then stood up the final two French defenders to finish in the corner.
Robinson, who scored 28 tries for England and two for the Lions in a glittering career, believes Arundell’s try showed he has the rugby intelligence to match his undoubted pace.
‘It was a world-class finish – it’s as simple as that,’ he said. ‘There were lots of different parts to the try that made it even better.
‘First of all, he was going backwards when he took the ball because Irish were chasing back to cover a kick.’
‘As somebody who loved to take players on, I know the best ball to attack from is ball on the front foot. There was the initial break, then the arc, and he maintained his pace throughout.
Robinson was suitably impressed by Arundell’s magnificent try and the newcomer’s maturity
‘There were players covering from all different angles – his spatial awareness was fantastic.
‘You thought he was going to get caught a couple of times and then he put key pieces of footwork in at just the right time which helped him go all the way.
‘The check he made about 25 metres out was world-class. He’d probably covered about 100 metres by that point so to then have the composure to do that was very impressive.’
‘The key when you’re attacking is to be decisive, make decisions quickly, and then go with that decision. You can see at every point he makes a decision and then kicks on.
‘To me it showed a maturity in his attack. It was one of the best tries I’ve seen in a long, long time. Most players would have got caught – there is no doubt about that.’