Sale's prolific wing Denny Solomona is understood to have an "outside chance" of being selected for the Lions tour just a month after officially qualifying for England on residency.

The 23-year-old is being monitored by the Lions coaching staff after making a stunning impact since his controversial switch from league to union, which prompted Castleford to initiate legal action.

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But Solomona has been branded a 'snake' and 'scum' by rugby league fans on social media after announcing his proposed move.

Solomona walked away from rugby league in December, announcing his intention to retire. He then joined Sale Sharks. He has now qualified to play for England on residency grounds - and has stated he intends to fulfil that ambition.


That prompted an outpouring of vitriol on social media.

Some of that anger if fuelled by the fact that should he play for England he will earn £30,000 per Test.

If he had stuck with Samoa he would have been lucky to have got more than £60-a-day in training fees.

More importantly, he was on £50K per year at Castleford Tigers - Sale will pay him around £250K per annum.

But before he qualified on residency grounds six months ago the confused Sale Sharks winger insisted that he didn't feel English.

Only 203 days ago the 23-year-old said: "My heart's not here, it's not for England.

"My heart is for New Zealand and Samoa and that's who I'll be representing.

"I'd love to represent Samoa while my grandparents are alive, it would mean a lot to do that, but it would be good if New Zealand came calling. I would be open to any option."

Solomona has scored 11 tries in as many matches for the Sharks and his predatory feats have propelled the Auckland-born player into late contention to be picked for the crusade to his homeland.

It is understood that Lions defence coach Andy Farrell, a code-breaker in his playing days, regards him particularly highly. Warren Gatland is due to name a 37-man squad on April 19 and competition for wing and full-back places is fierce.

There are likely to be six back-three players included and the front-runners are Stuart Hogg, Leigh Halfpenny, George North and Liam Williams.

Others in contention, many with significant Test experience, are Anthony Watson, Tommy Seymour, Jack Nowell, Keith Earls, Mike Brown, Jonny May, Simon Zebo, Marland Yarde, Chris Ashton, Sean Maitland and Christian Wade.

On that basis, Solomona's prospects are slight, but if he keeps scoring tries he may be difficult to ignore.

If the Lions don't need him, England will probably pick him for their two-Test tour of Argentina in June.

Eddie Jones is thought to be impressed by the newcomer and there are sure to be vacancies to fill out wide, depending on which Englishmen make the cut with Gatland. Jones is likely to name his tour squad the day after the Lions.

In September, while he was still a league player, Solomona suggested he had no interest in playing for England in the 13-man game.

But he has had a change of heart since his change of sport. "It just came down to circumstances," he said on Sale's website.

"They change, I enjoy playing here (England), I've been here three years and it's the choice I want to make. I confided in my coaches and my family and they support me.

"If it (Test call-up) comes, great, if it doesn't, there's always next year, and the year after. I'm just trying to enhance my skills as a rugby union player."

Solomona has encountered a hostile backlash from across the Pennines and the cross-code divide since opting to 'retire' from league in order to sign for Sale. "That comes with the job," he added. "If you're not hated, you're not doing something right. The coaching staff have helped me block it out."

Coincidentally, England are destined to benefit swiftly from the services of a player newly qualified on residency, just as the RFU are leading a campaign to tighten the criteria by voting for a five-year residency period.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: "It's a question, very simply, of, 'What do the rules say?'. The obvious answer is to adhere to the rules. Yes, we've been consistent in lobbying to change the rules - and once they're changed, we'll abide by them."