England 6 Nations Squad Review

The wait is finally over and Eddie Jones has given us his inaugural England squad. There is plenty to think about with the selections made and how they fit into the way that fast Eddie wants England to play the game.

Let’s start with the first time call ups; Maro Itoje, Josh Beaumont, Paul Hill, Sam Hill, Ollie Devoto, Jack Clifford and Elliot Daly. Some of these names, Maro, Jack and Elliot, were pretty much as expected as they have been performing week in week out for at least the last season and in some cases were unlucky, depending on your point of view, to miss out on the RWC squad. The more surprising ones are Josh Beaumont, Ollie Devoto,  Paul Hill and Sam Hill. Paul Hill has learnt his trade at Yorkshire Carnegie and has shown his ability with Northampton Saints this season and has seamlessly stepped into the Saints front row in place of the injured Kieran Brookes. Sam Hill has been a mainstay of the Exeter Chiefs midfield for a number of years now and is vastly underrated. He doesn’t make mistakes, runs hard lines and has excellent distribution. Ollie Devoto was voted LV player of the year a couple of years ago and the last player to be a real success in the England 12 shirt thinks his selection is an astute one.

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He is tall, strong has the eye for a gap and the hands to put people through them as well as a strong kicking game. Josh Beaumont is a bit like a Tasmanian devil all legs and arms that is difficult to stop as well as having a great turn of pace with excellent hands from playing fly half in his youth. He has been likened to a young version of both Zinzan Brooke and Kieran Read. I think there is a clever mind behind in these selections in that he has identified players that have the potential to be world class in 2019 and wants to give them some exposure to the highest level as early as he can to see how they go and to learn from the players that currently occupy the positions. I would like to see these players get some game time either off the bench or during the Italy game.

Shock selections: The dropping of Tom Youngs with the selection of Luke Cowan-Dickie was a bit of a surprise. I think Eddie Jones has thought that by 2019 Cowan-Dickie can develop into a better player than Tom Youngs can in the same time. It is a bold call but Eddie Jones has never been shy of making a big call. It is also worth remembering that he has helped develop some of the best players of our generation in George Smith and Stephen Larkham, and I wouldn’t be one to put it past him doing the same with Cowan-Dickie. Other notable absentees are Tom Wood, who four years ago could have been England Captain, Ben Morgan, David Wilson and Richard Wigglesworth players with a number of caps who it seems unfortunately for now don’t fit into the way Eddie Jones wants England to play.

So what is the Eddie Jones way? The press conference for the squad announcement was filled with the key words of hard work, attitude, desire, dominance, edge and identity. Eddie Jones has always been very talented at figuring out what makes a country tick and what does their history say about how they should play the game. From this he builds a strong identity through the side which enables people to instantly recognise their style of play. For England that has always been a hard-nosed pack that don’t take a backwards step with some backs that know how to move the ball and love an outside break. From the players he has selected it looks like there is plenty of room for players to develop into allowing England to play this style of game. With regards the flankers he has stated that he will not select any half way houses and wants a 6 and a ball fetching 7 as this will facilitate the high tempo running game that he wants to coach. Additionally, he is also fully aware that over the next four years England need to develop at least five world class players. These could be Manu Tuilagi, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Jamie George, George Ford, Henry Slade and Anthony Watson.

Possible starting XV for Scotland: So with the squad selected this would be my starting XV for the game up in Murrayfield against Scotland.

  1. Mako Vunipola
  2. Dylan Hartley
  3. Dan Cole
  4. George Kruis
  5. Joe Launchbury
  6. Chris Robshaw
  7. Matt Kvesic
  8. Billy Vunipola
  9. Danny Care
  10. George Ford
  11. Jack Nowell
  12. Owen Farrell
  13. Jonathan Joseph
  14. Anthony Watson
  15. Mike Brown
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