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Re: England squad
Posted by: Bald Eagles
Date: 24/09/2018 05:37
Brian Moore makes some interesting comments in his column this morning:

Where England are under Jones no one knows Ė and that is what worries me
The looming autumn internationals are assuming an importance out of all proportion to their usual place in Englandís rugby calendar. It is not just that it is the last chance England will get to play the southern-hemisphere giants before Japan 2019, it is also the form shown recently by South Africa and Argentina and that nobody has any idea where Eddie Jones and his England team are at the moment.
Are England merely stuttering after such a long period of improvement or have they hit a metaphorical wall, needing fresh ideas and rapid solutions to technical problems that have been exposed by observant opponents?

With that in mind, the announcement of the recent training squad was awaited with relish. There will always be justifiable arguments about selection because it is a trade-off between players who have proved their case in the past, those on form and the few who have just emerged and show huge potential.
Jonesís past claim was that form is essential, irrespective of previous performance or ability. With that in mind, you can see why some of his picks have confused some and angered others. There is no way he can explain some of his picks without saying that in several cases he has departed from his previous criteria.
Naturally, the headlines focused on the omission of Danny Cipriani Ė and with good reason. Unless Jones has been watching different games to the rest of us, it is impossible to agree with his assessment that, on form, Cipriani is third choice behind George Ford and Owen Farrell. Jones stated that Cipriani knows what areas of his game he has to work on, but the coach would save himself a lot of heat if he shared that information. As it is, many are simply left to conclude that other factors are at play, which is never good.
Chris Ashtonís ban means he has no form at all this season and Ben Teío and Manu Tuilagi have had so little game time recently that it is impossible to judge their current status. What you have to bear in mind is that Jones has always wanted a physical presence in the middle, and only injury has prevented him from picking one of these two power players. If one of them is anything like fit, they will be included in Jonesís squad. Is this fair on other centres? Possibly not, and Jones would do better to declare his preference publicly so that all know where they stand.
It is no surprise that plenty of discussion surrounded the back row, given that its balance has been the most visible of all Englandís current deficiencies.
Though the selections must have been marginal, the case for, say, Tom Curry over Sam Underhill or Matt Kvesic is hard to rationalise. We are still no wiser as to Jonesís pecking order for Englandís No 7 and it is strange that he appears prepared to state his one, two and three at No 10, but not elsewhere.
Yesterday was potentially a showdown between Farrell and Cipriani, and the chance for the wayward son to make a definitive statement in this debate. As it turned out, Saracens were so dominant that only their England aspirants shone and Gloucesterís pretensions to sit at the highest domestic table were given a rude correction. The result would have been disappointing for the West Country side, but few teams win at Allianz Park.
More troubling must have been that several Saracens regulars were on the bench and Gloucester still failed to challenge them credibly in any facet of the game.
There have been so many false dawns at Kingsholm, but there were signs that this time it might be different. Unfortunately, the Gloucester faithful must, it seems, keep waiting.
On the positive side, nearly all Saracensí England hopefuls appeared not only to be fit, but looked sharp, which is in stark contrast to this time last season. The options provided by players such as Alex Lozowski, Nick Isiekwe and Michael Rhodes give Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, and Jones flexibility without compromising on quality.
The case of Rhodes to fill either the six or seven position continues to grow, yet here we are forced to make the same point that has been made with his challengers. Whoever is chosen should, ideally, be playing in that position for his club and he must be given a full campaign to make his case.
There are only two such groups of fixtures left: the autumn internationals and the Six Nations. After that we are into the World Cup warm-up games, where it should be a case of honing, not continued experimentation.
Jonesís incredible run of results made it possible to say: ďIn Eddie we trust.Ē At the moment that is open to doubt.

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