As England get ready to start the defence of their Guinness Six Nations crown next weekend, head coach Eddie Jones insists his side’s adaptability will boost their chances of lifting the trophy for a second successive year.
The Red Rose finished top of the pile last October as the 2020 Championship came to a close, with final-day victory over Italy sealing the deal to edge out France on points difference.
Despite that victory, England were often accused of not being easy on the eye throughout the last campaign, with their kick-heavy approach seeing them opt for territory, before relying on their world class defensive unit to regain possession.
But Jones is adamant that his side will be looking to mix it up this time around, starting with next Saturday’s clash with Scotland at Twickenham, as he has his eyes set on another Championship victory.
“Maybe we haven’t played as well as we could have – and we want to play better,” Jones told the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
“Our goal in the Six Nations is to play better rugby. It doesn’t matter how many times you kick the ball, it’s the quality of rugby you play.
“We don’t say, ‘we are going to play like this’. We want to play good, effective rugby. And effective rugby is getting the ball to the other end of the field and scoring points. That is the currency we play by.
“If we can do it by running and passing and being attractive, then we want to do that. If we can do it by kicking, we will do it that way.
“So we are always looking to adapt and evolve our game. And the game you play is dependent on the opposition and the referee.”
England head into the Championship on the back of a sensational calendar year in 2020, which saw them taste defeat in just one of their nine matches, as they triumphed in both the Guinness Six Nations and the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup.
Jones’ side were quick to put boot to ball throughout the last campaign, with George Ford and Owen Farrell contributing to a Championship-leading 5496.4m kicked throughout their five matches – while being the only team to register fewer than 500 carries (454).
But with a number of exciting prospects coming up through the system, including four uncapped players in the shape of Beno Obano, Paolo Odogwu, Harry Randall and Tom West, England will have a host of weapons in their arsenal to make the difference while the ball is in hand.
Jack Willis is another young talent set to make his Championship bow, with the 24-year-old drafted into the squad to replace the injured Sam Underhill, having impressed in England’s victorious Autumn Nations Cup campaign.
The explosive Odogwu has performed magnificently for Wasps throughout the season – whether at wing or centre – with club teammate West receiving a late call-up to the squad after the withdrawal of Joe Launchbury and Joe Marler on Monday.
Prop Obano is another player that has excelled in the domestic game for Bath of late, while 23-year-old Randall has already caught the eye of the international boss with his dazzling displays for Bristol Bears.
And as the faces in the international set-up start to change, the England head coach is looking forward to blooding the young talent on the highest stage, as they look to secure back-to-back Championships for the second time in five years.
On Randall, Jones said: ”He does things ahead of the game, which I like, and he backs himself. He’s fast and he’s tough and he’s cheeky.
“You are always looking for players with the things you can’t coach. And the things you can’t coach are instinct and intuition.
“We like the way we are revitalising the squad, slowly and surely. We brought through nine new caps last year and as you can see the age profile of the squad is pretty good.”