England flanker Jack Willis looks increasingly unlikely to return to the Gallagher Premiership – according to reports in France.
The 26-year-old former ex-Wasps player joined Stade Toulousain this season, and his impressive performances have apparently set to earn him a one-year extension with an optional year. Willis has quickly established himself as a key player for Toulouse.
The 6’3, 110kg back row had to leave Wasps due to the club’s bankruptcy but has found success at the Ernest-Wallon. His fierce tackling and ball-handling skills have made him a fan favorite, and if he decides to stay in Toulouse it will undoubtedly please supporters of the club.
L’Equipe report that the loose forward is now prepared to risk further England involvement – at least in the short term – in order to stay at Toulouse. Willis is the only English international to currently play outside of his country’s borders, taking advantage of the free pass obtained by former Wasps and Worcester players to remain eligible for Test rugby given the extraordinary nature of the respective clubs’ demise.
Should he extend his stay it is likely England head coach Steve Borthwick will rescind the privilege extended to him. Given the abject state of the English team at present, the lure of more international caps might not be as alluring as it once was.
Willis played against ten of his Toulouse teammates in the recent match between England and France, and his case could spark debate on eligibility rules at a time when England is discussing the issue.
In the unlikely event that Toulouse doesn’t keep him, the English international has plenty of options. He’s apparently been widely courted in France, including by big-spending Bordeaux Begles.
The former England U20s star made his first XV debut for Wasps at Sale back in November 2016 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, with his Premiership bow coming later the same month also against the Sharks.