Jones expects England to have ‘enormous’ competition for places

Eddie Jones believes the emergence of England’s young guns in his side’s unbeaten Autumn Nations Series means there will be “enormous” competition for places in the Guinness Six Nations.

Eddie Jones believes the emergence of England’s young guns in his side’s unbeaten Autumn Nations Series means there will be “enormous” competition for places in the Guinness Six Nations.

Jones’ ‘New England’ beat Tonga, Australia and world champions South Africa in successive weeks at Twickenham despite missing a number of first-choice players and blooding several youngsters.

England have capped 23 new players this season, including full-back Freddie Steward and fly-half Marcus Smith who were both pivotal in the 27-26 win over South Africa, and Jones believes the rapid rise of the next generation is sure to give him selection headaches in the new year.

“We’ve had our challenges in terms of Covid and a number of injuries, so maybe some young guys we thought weren’t ready to play at that level of game have been given their opportunity and acquitted themselves really well,” explained the England head coach.

“So, we’ve added to the depth, we’ve added to the competition and we’ve also added to the hunger of the side, which is really important.

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“The development of some of the younger players being quicker than maybe we thought they were going to be puts enormous competitive strains on getting selected, which is a good position to be in.

“I think we’ve had 23 new caps this season and a lot of those players are going to have great careers ahead of them.

“If they keep working hard and keep that hunger for the want to get better, they are all going to have very good careers.”

Jones revealed the attention of his coaching staff will now firmly switch to England’s opening Guinness Six Nations fixture against Scotland at BT Murrayfield in February.

The Red Rose will be looking to reclaim the Calcutta Cup after Scotland recorded their first win at Twickenham in 38 years in the 2021 campaign, which England ultimately finished in a very disappointing fifth place.

But after his youthful side gelled so quickly over the summer and autumn, Jones is in an optimistic mood heading into the Guinness Six Nations.

He added: “I was talking four or five weeks ago to a coach who won a major trophy. I said, ‘What did you do?’ He said, ‘I really don’t know. Every team I get, I do the same thing and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.’

“We got those young guys together in summer, we did the same things we always do; we encouraged them to work together, we encouraged them to train hard. For some reason, there was this chemistry in that group and it just took off.

“Then you have the interesting situation where you put them back with a few of the established players [for the Autumn Nations Series] and again you don’t really know what’s going to happen.

“They seem to have gelled really well, they have got a nice feel about them and when you have that nice feel about the team they tend to fight a bit harder, they dig down a bit deeper.

“The tank is never empty. Sometimes you think it’s empty. They were able to find a lot of extra petrol in the tank on Saturday [against South Africa], and a lot of it we don’t know why. I wish I could give you a better answer, but I can’t.”

Jones may not know the secret to England’s new-found morale but when it comes to building the culture of the side, he is sticking to the traditional Japanese Shinto purification practice that saw his squad go paddle-boarding in Jersey in the build-up to the Autumn Nations Series.

He explained: “We are going to start off with a Misogi again, that is going to be part of our culture going forward where the players have to find a bit of themselves. We are just busily planning that at the moment.”

Jones has challenged his players to maintain the good habits they have forged with England as they return to their clubs ahead of next year’s Guinness Six Nations.

He said: “We want them to go back and play their trademark game for their clubs, that was the clear message they got [when leaving the camp].

“Good habits are very important to keep, and we want the players to play with the same effort and the same emotional control they did for us, for their clubs.

“So, when they have the opportunity to come back in for the Six Nations, they are in an even better position than they are now.”