A huge November ahead for England rugby, coming off the back of a Grand Slam win and a historic whitewash of Australia on their own turf for the Cook Cup. Therefore, understandably, there is some major expectation from England fans and the team alike.
Having waited with baited breath fans now have a whole host of talking points about Eddie Jones’ latest squad. The inclusion of seven exciting debutants: Josh Beaumont, Ben Te’o, Sam Jones, Mike Williams, Nathan Hughes, Joe Marchant and Dan Robson. The exciting mix of pace, flair and power has, however, prompted some questions, particularly in the old age issue of England’s backrow balance. Jones has made no bones about wanting a strong destructive backrow, notably at openside which dampens the dream of England fans who are advocates of out and out openside such as Matt Kvesic or the currently unavailable Sam Underhill. This could result as a good policy considering the hard style of rugby Jones wants to play, and recent changes to the law of the rolling maul advantages. The inclusion of Richard Hill, a powerful destructive forward, furthers the evidence of what Jones is looking for.
The excitement at the prospective England team does not stop at the back row. Going further back and looking at playmakers such as Joe Marchant and Alex Lozowski (part of a wider EPS squad) point to a real intent to include some playmakers who can really change a game and make things happen. Not solely relying on this, Jones is clearly an advocate of extending the power into the backs and has referred to Ben Te’o as being “potentially world class”, clearly seeing him as a suitable understudy to the injured Manu Tuilagi.
It’s clear to see that England are going into this autumn series with clear intent to take the physicality to South Africa, the pace and style to Argentina and Fiji, and, hopefully replicate the victories in Australia over the summer. It is safe to say that with the confidence England are carrying, the talent at Eddie Jones’ disposal and the experience of World Cup winner Richard Hill to utilise it, is very possible that England could match New Zealand’s feat of an unbeaten year. That is not to say we do, however, have some tough matches coming up that are not to be missed.
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