Eddie Jones favours 'gas, guts and power' in 'frightening combination' for Australia tour

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Joe Cokanasiga and Henry Arundell
Joe Cokanasiga and Henry Arundell

Eddie Jones will consider the “frightening” prospect of picking Joe Cokanasiga and Henry Arundell on either wing as he aims to assemble an England backline brimming with “gas, guts and power”.

Jones will use a three-day training camp this week to assess various combinations ahead of a Barbarians fixture at Twickenham and July’s three-Test tour of Australia.

In the strongest hint yet of his preferred World Cup midfield, he also suggested it was “definitely important” for Marcus Smith, Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi to spend time together before what should be a fascinating series against the Wallabies.

Cokanasiga, who burst onto the scene in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, has scored 11 tries in 11 Test appearances. Because of his brawn and dynamism, the 24-year-old was singled out as a possible contingency to help “win collisions” should Tuilagi not make next year’s tournament in France.

Jones is known to be fond of Tommy Freeman, one of Northampton Saints’ in-form backs, for similar reasons. The England head coach has picked 10 uncapped players, including Freeman and Arundell, in a 36-man squad that will train at King’s House School in Richmond. He is eager to inject pace into a side that registered just eight tries over a clunky Six Nations campaign.

Tommy Freeman - David Rogers/Getty Images
Tommy Freeman - David Rogers/Getty Images

Arundell, the electric 19-year-old from London Irish, has received a maiden senior call-up and Jones believes that England are in as strong a position now as they were a year out from the last World Cup.

“We can potentially have a very strong pack,” he said. “Then, if we get our best talent on the field, we can have a combative backline and potentially an outside [back] three that’s got gas – which will give us an opportunity to win the World Cup.”

Although “100 per cent” confident that Tuilagi will be up to speed next year, as he was for Japan in 2019, Jones admitted that England have missed the centre’s explosiveness.

“It’s a struggle, but we’ve got some good players coming back,” Jones explained, outlining the task of making up for Tuilagi’s absence. “If we can get someone like Joe Cokanasiga fit and playing consistently, it gives you a point of difference.

“Imagine having Cokanasiga on one wing and Arundell on the other. For an international team, that’s a frightening combination. We’ve just got to wait and see who is available, and then we’ve got to be able to manufacture different ways to win collisions.”

“If you haven’t got the power to win collisions you’ve got to find another way to win collisions,” Jones added. “I can tell you that’s bloody hard because the game is about collisions at the moment.

 Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi of England enjoy a laugh during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama - Francois Nel/World Rugby via Getty Images
Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi of England enjoy a laugh during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama - Francois Nel/World Rugby via Getty Images

“With Manu, we need to go in with an outlook that maybe he’s there, and maybe he’s not. If he’s not there we have to find another way to win collisions.”

As for Arundell, he will be evaluated as part of a group that features Anthony Watson as well as Freddie Steward, Louis Lynagh, Freeman and Cokanasiga. Having saluted the teenager’s attacking intent, comparing it to that of Matt Giteau, Jones labelled outright speed as “massively” important.

“Gas, power and guts are the three major prerequisites for good rugby players,” he said. “He [Arundell] has got gas, we don't know whether he has got guts, he looks like he has got enough power.”

A number of established players such as Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Henry Slade and Elliot Daly have been omitted from the squad that will convene on Sunday. Joe Marchant, who enjoyed a strong Six Nations, is another midfielder missing.

Jones has stressed that these individuals remain in contention to tour. That said, the presence of Smith, Farrell and Tuilagi feels pertinent. As a trio, they have only started together in one Test match, against Australia last November. It would appear that they are being primed for an integral role Down Under.

“That is definitely important,” Jones said of their inclusion. “We haven’t selected the team yet but they could be handy.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting