Jones bullish over England selection

Date published: January 27 2016

England head coach Eddie Jones responded defiantly on Wednesday to criticism regarding the non-selection of Elliot Daly and Maro Itoje.

Daly, the Wasps centre, and Saracens lock Itoje were both released along with eight other players back to their clubs this week, as Jones and the remaining 23 players continue to prepare for their Six Nations opener against Scotland.

Jones stated that each player had been told why they had not been selected in the 23 while adding that he wasn't susceptible to hype in the media surrounding certain players.

"We’ve got an idea of the team to face Scotland and those guys [Daly, Itoje] aren’t in it at the moment," Jones said.

"For each player there's a reason that I've explained to them which is between the player and myself.

"The press doesn’t pick our team, I pick the team with the coaches, and we feel we’ve got the best 23 to go up there and defeat Scotland.

"It’s the Calcutta Cup game. Scotland are the form side of Europe. The weather will probably be sunshine, 30 degrees, beautiful conditions… we know it's going to be a tough game so I’ve got to pick a tough side to take up there and then I’ll worry about the game after that. We’re picking 23 to go do battle at Murrayfield."

Jones took charge of his first session with England on Tuesday and was pleased with the early progress he saw.

He added: "We had a fantastic day yesterday where we got through a lot. We worked out all of our plays coming out of our half, now once we get to halfway we have to work out how to secure some points. We might do that today."

The former Australia and Japan boss added that it was a humbling experience to be part of the Six Nations for the first time.

"Firstly, I’ve never seen so much media! Secondly, as a kid I grew up watching this tournament back in Australia and the giants of the game playing the game," he explained.

"I’ve still got memories of JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, Colin Deans playing for Scotland – those great players. You’ve got this tournament that's full of tradition, the rivalry is immense, so to be part of it is a great honour and very humbling." 

Despite losing the England captaincy to Dylan Hartley, Jones was full of praise for in-form flanker Chris Robshaw after not only his performances this season but how he is adapting to his new role.

"Chris has got a new role and he's doing that very well. He can finish the tournament as the leading blindside in Europe and that’s his target," Jones said. 

"He has a lot to work on but he's working and hard and He’s helping Dylan. He's a good fella and he’s shown by his form with Harlequins that he really wants to play for England."

England were scheduled to be back in training on Wednesday afternoon, with the players not only working hard on the training pitch to impress their new boss, but also taking ownership of the training centre at Pennyhill Park as the prepare for that compelling opener on February 6.

"We’re starting afresh. In a lot of ways we’ve put a new coat of paint on the place," Jones added.

"The hotel is nice five-star hotel to relax, but once they step into the training centre it’s about business.

"We want the players to be involved in setting up the training centre. It’s their place of work. It’s a world class facility and we want to maximise their time there."

by Ben Coles