When I shoved the England squad and my initial views here yesterday, Eddie Jones hadn’t spoken about his choices.
Not that it stopped me putting my four old pennies in (so not much worth hearing then).
Eddie made some telling remarks when he did talk about the squad – indicating that the vacant wing spots were likely to be Jonny May and either Marlon Yarde or Semesa Rokodoguni.
He pretty much dismissed Chris Ashton’s England future, if he does, as it appears, be heading for Toulon.
“A lot can happen in those comic books. As we’ve seen with some players, they sign up but don’t end up going there. If Chris does, it’ll close the door on his England career.”
Jones insisted that the Ford-Farrell axis was not an experiment and underscored his faith in Dylan Hartley, despite his lack of game time this season.
Of more direct concern right now is who is in line to play at flanker. He praised both Tom Wood on his improved game and Teimana Harrison as the one in pole for the number 7 shirt. This was despite Saints having been given a stuffing in Europe last week.
He also underlined that he expects Chris Robshaw to play at 6, despite media speculation that he would be switched back to openside.
The squad are off to the Algarve for training next week and I don’t expect it will be much of a holiday – remember Brighton? He rejected the idea that it will be a soft trip –
“There’s nothing to change, we want to train with intensity, We need to train with intensity if we’re going to play South Africa and beat them on Nov 12.”
“The only team we’re interested in is South Africa. They’ve picked an interesting squad, and will play a bit more rugby than we’re used to, and that will provide different challenges than we’re used to. We need to be prepared for the more brutal South Africa style and the new way they might be playing.”
I guess he’ll announce the 23 around the 10th November – taken from those who survive the Portugal jaunt.
From what has been said so far it looks very much like the back row will be Robshaw, Harrison and Vunipola – with Hughes likely to be ready from the bench.
The media in Australia and New Zealand have been trying to stoke up the rivalry between Eddie and Michael Chieka suggesting that Eddie referenced the ‘clown’ jibe in the NZ Herald to wind the Wallabies up.
The NZ Herald headline was –
‘Eddie Jones’ clown jibe on eve of tour’
What he actually said was –
“We’ve got a long time before we play Australia, but we know they’re talking even now about a grand slam.
“So they’re obviously full of optimism, confidence.
“So they won’t be sending in the clowns.”
“If we lose against South Africa then I’ll probably be in the paper the next day with a red nose on”
Have some Sun journos emigrated?