Courtney Lawes believes Maro Itoje could thrive at blindside flanker for England in the absence of Chris Robshaw ahead of the Six Nations.
It remains to be seen who head coach Eddie Jones will task with filling the No 6 vacancy, but with previous experience in the position, Itoje appears to be the front-runner to fill the void.
“Maro is just a very good rugby player,” Lawes said. “The difference between five and six in this day and age isn’t a huge one. He can certainly player either/or.”
“Whether he plays in the second row or at six, he’ll have an impact in the game. He’s very good over the ball.
“As a line-out caller to have an option like him alongside two second rows must be what you want.”
England face France in their first Six Nations fixture on Saturday, with Lawes competing with George Kruis, Joe Launchbury and Charlie Ewels for two lock positions, provided Itoje makes the positional switch to flanker.
Lawes has featured at flanker himself during his career, but does not envision himself playing there anytime soon.
“There are lots of good back rows now so I tend to stick to the second row,” Lawes added.
“I have played six for Northampton quite a few times last season and briefly at the end of one game in the autumn. You get the rangy number sixes now who are good line-out forwards.
“Rugby keeps changing and the players keep getting better and better, and it’s great for the game, great for the public to watch.
“Everyone’s got to be athletic now, everyone’s got to be able to do the basics very well and do every job.”
Lawes, 27, has featured 53 times for his country, scoring his first international try against South Africa at Twickenham, and says he is in a good place heading into England’s defence of their Grand Slam crown.
“I definitely feel good – I’m getting back to my best,” he said. “I’ve had a good run of games without niggles.
“In previous years, my main thing was defence. I think I’ve improved in the offence side of things, carrying more at club level and in the last couple of games of the autumn.
“I want to make sure I’m very good at the basics, line-out, rucking, but I really want to stand out, carrying and getting round the park and making my tackles.
“Mako and Billy Vunipola are two of the best carriers in the world so you are always going to miss them when they’re injured.
“But there are players, myself included, that can step up and fill those boots in this Six Nations.”