Eddie Jones admits that Owen Farrell did not take too kindly to being removed as England’s captain for their opening Test with Australia on Saturday.
Courtney Lawes has been selected to lead the squad in the opening game of the three-match series, despite Farrell being named in the starting XV.
The 30-year-old will link up with Marcus Smith as the team’s playmaking axis and Jones believes that it is an opportunity for the Saracens man to solely focus on his rugby.
Getting back to his best
“He’s very unhappy,” England’s head coach told reporters.
“We want Owen to be at his best. He’s been out of the side for a while so it’s an opportunity for him to play three Tests back to back and produce his best.
“Owen’s a bloke that expresses his feelings clearly and he wants to be captain. When I told him he wasn’t going to be captain he wasn’t very happy. But that’s okay.
“He’s had a fair while out of the team and we feel at this stage it’s the best thing for the team and for Owen because he’s a very important player for us.
“He’s played 96 Tests for England, won every trophy in the world apart from the World Cup so he’s very important player. Given the time he’s had out we want him to concentrate on playing these three Tests and being the best player he can be.”
“He’s calm, he’s got a good sense of togetherness. He’s engaging with the players and he’s the right fit for this tour,” he said.
England have named an experienced XV but the bench is comparatively callow, with Jack van Poortvliet, Guy Porter and Henry Arundell all in line for their debuts.
There is particular excitement over teenage sensation Arundell, who was initially named in the squad as an apprentice.
“He’s trained well this week. he’s got exceptional pace and if he gets the opportunity against Australia, I’m sure he’ll show that pace,” Jones said.
The Red Rose boss also started the mind games, questioning whether Quade Cooper would suit the Wallabies’ game plan this weekend.
“You don’t bring back Quade unless you’re going to play him. Their game is based more around Nic White,” Jones added.
“It’s an interesting little conundrum for them because they’ve got a basically a Brumbies side based around Nic White and you’re bringing in Quade who wants the ball.
“How they get that balance right between 9 and 10 – I’m sure they’ll get it right – but Quade brings a short kicking game, a good long passing game, when he plays flat he can play through the line, he’s a threatening player.”
Australia v England series preview
Planet Rugby previews the Test series between the Wallabies and England in Australia.