Eddie Jones insists England’s summer tour will offer a true gauge of Denny Solomona’s quality after naming the rugby league convert in his squad bound for Argentina.
Solomona set a new Super League record by scoring 40 tries in a season in 2016, eclipsing the mark established by another cross-code convert in Lesley Vainikolo. Since leaving Castleford for Sale, Solomona has plundered a further 10 tries in 13 appearances.
The Auckland-born 23-year-old, who qualifies for England on residency grounds, is poised to make his debut against the Barbarians in the pre-tour curtain-raiser at Twickenham before winning his first cap against Argentina in San Juan and Santa Fe.
“There’s something about him, he finds the line. He has that ability when he gets the ball to score a try,” Jones said.
“I watched him play against Gloucester on the weekend. He’s still got a lot of work to do on his game in terms of position, but they are areas that I think we can work on.
“I think he’s got that x-factor, whatever you want to call it. He scores tries and that’s a winger’s job.
“Wingers are like goalkeepers – a goalkeeper has so many saves to make in the game and the good goalkeeper makes those saves.
“A good winger, when they get a good opportunity, they score and if they get half an opportunity, they score and that’s what he’s good at.
“There’s a gap between the Premiership and international rugby and he’s done well at Premiership rugby but we’ll find out more about him on this tour.”
Solomona is one of 15 uncapped players who will tour Argentina, among them back row prospect Sam Underhill who has become eligible for England after leaving the Ospreys for Bath.
The highly-successful Under-20 production line has been raided in picking the debutants, but it is the senior players overlooked by the Lions who will form the core of the starting XV.
Jones had indicated he would rest some of his established names but instead the likes of Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown, James Haskell and George Ford will be present to face the Pumas.
“They’re all keen to tour. If they’re not keen to tour they won’t play for England again, it’s as simple as that,” Jones said.