IIt’s unclear if Eddie Jones wants to change the world, but he’s looking for a new England. He has given his team that tag this summer, repeatedly urging those to whom the international stage is new to seize their opportunity, to make the jersey their own, to ensure that older players go to the British & Irish Lions, or to them. give some extra. weeks off, they have a fight on their hands next season.
Sixteen new internationals and a renewed coaching staff, albeit temporary, certainly suggest there are changes in the air, but it has been instructive to hear Jones try to control things after high-scoring victories against significantly inferior opponents. Given their limited build, the US really had no right to score four attempts and while there was considerably more cohesion in Canada’s 10-shot beating, they are at their lowest point in quite some time. “The most important thing to us now is how many of these players are prepared to work very hard to be the best, the master craftsmen of their position,” Jones said. “However, it would be premature to say that we have exceptional depth after two victories over the United States and Canada.”
The question, then, is whether the change is permanent or illusory and, when England return to race at Twickenham in November, the selection of Jones’s team will be important in their plans for the World Cup. Marcus Smith has impressed in both of his starts and has played with a degree of freedom, if not the abandonment that he does with Harlequins, but has he displaced George Ford as Jones’ first choice?
Is Jones finally ready to ditch Ben Youngs and go for the more dynamic Harry Randall? Alex Dombrandt enjoyed a relatively uneventful debut against Canada and while it’s safe to suggest that he will win many more internationals, it would be foolish to bet against Billy Vunipola as a starter. And while the new caps bring an air of excitement, it must be said that the two best players in England this summer have been Sam Underhill and Ellis Genge, two of the oldest members of the team.
In fact, the danger is that several of this summer’s fresh faces will fall into the darkness of questions. Could Lewis Ludlow be England’s captain in his first two appearances and never win another international again? Could Newcastle hooker Jamie Blamire score four attempts in two tests and never be seen at this level again? Jones, after all, was conservative in his selection during the catastrophic Six Nations campaign. The more out of shape the Saracen players seemed, the more he became attached to them and therefore it is natural to wonder if this really is a sea change or just a remedy.
Jones also has another problem because with Smith now attached to South Africa, there are 13 England players out with the Lions, all of whom must be given a week off during the fall. It’s a problem because, by his own admission, Jones underestimated the cost a Lions tour cost his players four years ago and that, in turn, stood out as a key reason for his downfall in the first half of 2018. and it even affected their World Cup.
England made it to the final, but one of the big unanswered questions of their campaign in Japan was whether they could have gotten over the line against South Africa in the final if the squad was reviewed in which Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown, Dylan Hartley and James Haskell They were ushered in coming six months earlier.
Where Jones goes with his coaching staff will also be instructive because, despite everything that clearly qualified Ed Robinson and everything that Alex Codling will have benefited from the experience this summer, the Australian needs a statement appointment after Simon Amor and Jason Ryles departures following the Six Nations. If you get one, and how much spending is saved, it can offer a hint or two about Jones’ budget for France 2023.
It will be fascinating to see if Jones looks to Premiership clubs to bolster his backroom staff. The review of England’s performance in the Six Nations made numerous references to the need for greater synergy between the club and the country, which may also explain Jones de Ludlow’s choice as captain this summer. He could have gone for Underhill or Genge, but he explained his decision on the basis that Ludlow of Gloucester demonstrated the best leadership skills on the domestic circuit. Was this an olive branch for clubs Jones has had troubled relationships with in the past?
In fact, that relationship will be fascinating in the coming seasons because, with no relegation from the Premiership before the next World Cup, there is an argument to say that there is more scope for clubs to adopt certain styles or to select players in certain positions than they would be for the benefit of England. There is also the expectation that it will encourage clubs to give young English people more opportunities.
“England have always had a lot of players,” added Jones. “They have 12 professional clubs, the only other top-level country that has that is France. That gives you depth. It’s about quality, it’s about how consistent and hard you work. England will never be short of talent, but sometimes they will lack the will and hard work. Everyone is auditioning for a place on a team that will be the best team in the world for the 2023 World Cup. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism