England's future blooming at Franklin's Gardens
Amongst those well entertained Saturday's classic Heineken Cup Pool One match between Northampton and Munster was one Martin Johnson. Aside from one of the best matches at this stage of the competition anyone can remember, the England coach will have been intrigued by a number of performances from young English players for the hosts.
Shane Geraghty had made many of the headlines after his coach suggested he could team up with Jonny Wilkinson and the Northampton stand-off lived up to the hype, scoring a clever try from a tap penalty and setting up two tries for Chris Ashton, another convert from Rugby League.
However, it was the work of someone in a position close to Johnson's heart that may have caught the eye best, Courtney Lawes. Saints coach Jim Mallinder had been reluctant to start Lawes in previous Premiership games. Lawes was considered right for the task of stopping a renowned Munster second row of Donnacha O'Callaghan and Lions captain Paul O'Connell.
Lawes brought plenty of strength and athleticism to the game both in the loose and causing problems in the lineout along with Juandre Kruger. Of course, you cannot say Lawes will be picked for England based on one performance. That said, it really will be a case as to when rather than if Lawes wins his first cap. Do anyone honestly believe Johnson wasn't focused upon someone in the role he executed with great repute?
Geraghty can only continue playing the way he has. The former London Irish player was full of creativity his chip ahead to set up Ashton's first try. His instinct in taking the tap instead of going for three points as the whistle was about to go for half-time showed a intelligent player capable of playing high-class international rugby. Munster's side, laden with internationals, were not wise to the possibility.
Throughout all this, two other players didn't get a mention, Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley. Hartley is already England's first choice although his own lineout occasionally came under pressure, something he will not want to repeat during the autumn internationals. Foden didn't have a bad game either. He was merely overshadowed by others.
Jim Mallinder has created a wonderful squad that may go on to win major trophies, including Europe's top prize. However, he has also brought together a number of promising player that may make Twickenham a second home.