Alex Dombrandt is a must-pick for Eddie Jones for this year’s World Cup, according to former England flanker Peter Winterbottom.

The Harlequins back row has taken the Premiership by storm in his first season as a professional, as he breezed through his transition to full-time athlete having been a beer-chugging student at Cardiff Metropolitan University 12 months ago.

Dombrandt, 22, has not gone unnoticed. He was named Harlequins Players’ Player and Supporters’ Player of the season, as well as making the six-man league-wide shortlist for Land Rover Discovery of the Season in the Gallagher Premiership.

Now he has even more silverware to show for it, as he was recognised at The Rugby Paper Awards, where he named the inaugural Raging Bull Young Player of the Year.

The back-rower was not on hand to collect the award but Winterbottom – himself a back-rower for Quins – stood in and is sure he is the bolter Eddie Jones’ squad needs for Japan this autumn.

“It would have been very, very difficult for this award to go to anyone else,” he said.

“Dombrandt has been absolutely outstanding since coming onto the scene in the early season and then kept getting better – he will continue to do so.

“He will have a long career in the game, including with England where he is going to be a great of the future.

“I’m not a selector but I would pick him – why not? He has got over every hurdle put in front of him up to now, got into great shape and he is going to be an imposing player able to turn games. He could be devastating for England coming off the bench.”

Dombrandt was one of a dozen winners at the inaugural edition of the awards, held at his home ground The Stoop.
Winterbottom, who won 58 England caps in the Eighties and Nineties, has been particularly impressed with Dombrandt’s power and explosiveness at close quarters.

The quality shows in the statistics around the try line as the versatile back-row has registered an impressive 11 tries in 23 games for his club.

Winterbottom believes his route, coming through the university system, shows the passage from lecture theatre to sporting coliseum’s such as Twickenham is not as far as it may seem.

“Alex shows players should not be disappointed if they don’t get picked up by the academy system,” he added.

“Players have to have the confidence to make the most of university rugby, which is good now and getting better. It’s a route you can use to become a professional player and an England player.

“Alex is a big strong ball carrier, who gets over the gain line and hits great lines. His work rate is improving and he is actually very quick. He is just a devastating ball carrier.”

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