I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when Henry Arundell ripped apart the Toulon defence last week. It was like watching Christian Cullen, who was one of the best players to pull on the All Blacks jersey.
There’s so much natural ability there. What’s so impressive is the way Arundell swerved at top speed, threw in some footwork, dropped his speed to almost a standstill and then went again.
His deceleration and quick acceleration back to top speed is really impressive.
Whether he’s playing for England U20s or London Irish, Henry Arundell is an exciting watch
You see a lot of unbelievably quick athletes who struggle to beat defenders at top speed. That body movement at pace is what set Cullen apart from the rest. There aren’t many players in the world who move like that. He’s quick but he’s also strong, 96kg, with big legs.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go. Most of his appearances have come from the bench but there’s plenty of time to establish himself in England’s World Cup plans.
You always see one bolter at the World Cup, pushing their way into the starting team and having a real impact. Nehe Milner-Skudder being the classic example with the All Blacks.
I could see Arundell and Freddie Steward playing together in the back three in future. They’re both full-backs, but they have very different points of difference so I could see them working in tandem.
London Irish full-back Henry Arundell could soon join Freddie Steward in England’s back three
Steward’s point of difference is his aerial game, while Arundell is lethal on the counterattack. It could be a really dangerous combination.
People question whether there’s still a place in the international game for running threats. Yes, there’s less time and space in the Test game, but there are still opportunities for moments of magic.
No one has really made England’s winger positions their own, so it’s all up for grabs for someone like Arundell. If you need a try at the end of the match, when the bodies are tired, he could be lethal.
I could see him starting out as one of Jones’s ‘finishers’, and there’s no reason why he can’t push his way into the starting team over the next 12 months if he takes any opportunities he gets.
I spoke to Jordan Turner-Hall about Arundell. Jordan coached him at England Under 20 level when he burst onto the scene.
The feedback was that he has a good head on his shoulders, always being proactive about doing his extras in training. That bodes well.
The teenager has an eye for the line and could fit in well as one of Eddie Jones’ ‘finishers’
London Irish are doing the right thing by putting him on the bench for now to aid his development. It would be easy to join the hype and chuck him in at the deep end.
It will take him some time to lock down the fundamentals — positioning in the back field, confidence under the high balls — but if he does that then he looks like someone who could become one of the best in the world.
You need to consistently nail the basics so you don’t just become a highlights reel player — and there’s nothing to suggest he can’t do that. He could be England’s most exciting runner since Jason Robinson.
People will tune into the Premiership Cup on Tuesday night just to watch this guy.