On Sunday afternoon Eddie Jones announced the 26-man squad for the forthcoming test against Wales and then the 32-man squad that will head to Australia. Alongside some familiar faces England's head coach has included 4 uncapped players that will be on the plane to Australia; Ben Te'o, Teimana Harrison, Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler.
As soon as the announcements were made on EnglandRugby.com and released on social media there was a great deal reaction to one area in particular; the exclusion of Chris Ashton from the touring party, with Marland Yarde being preferred as the third choice winger. Second a number of people's heads were turned by the inclusion of the relatively unknown prop Ellis Genge.
This Premiership season we've seen braces and hat-tricks aplenty being scored by wingers out wide with 30% of all tries scored coming from those wearing the 11 or 14 jerseys. Numerically the 11 Premiership tries that Chris Ashton has amassed puts him near to the top charts but for Eddie Jones that's not the whole picture. England's head coach said that the inclusion of Yarde over AShton 'it was an easy call to make' and sights the growth and potential development of the Harlequin as a key assets in the his favour. Remember Eddie Jones is running two strategies simultaneously here, one to win matches in the here and now and another to ensure that England develop through strongly into the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Marland Yarde is five-years younger than Chris Ashton and when you read the head coach's thoughts on Yarde's potential then you have the feeling that with this decision he has an eye on the longer term.
'Chris Ashton has finished at club level, and done very well. Marland has a lot of growth in him,' England's head coach said.
'He's [Yarde] a young player who probably got his first cap too early, maybe didn't realise how important it was to work hard. He's now working hard on his game and is the sort of wing we want.
'I always go back to that game against New Zealand that England nearly won, when Marland scored a try when he ran over Richie McCaw. If a kid can do that, he's got potential, so I've had a special interest in him. He's an interesting boy, he wants to portray that gangster image, but he's a hard-working player. I think he can do things in our team that will really add to us. I think that he can become a really good all-round player. I'm not saying Ashton can't. Ashton is unlike, he's a great finisher but I want a bit more than that.'
After limited Premiership game time with Leicester, being on loan from Bristol, Ellis Genge's inclusion is another that has turned heads. According to Richard Cockerill the 21-year-old 'is a bit of a handful' but has great potential. The Leicester's DOR's viewpoint on Genge's potential is one that Eddie Jones shares and on Sunday he highlighted the prop's athleticism, ball carrying and aggression as traits that he believes will put him in good stead in this squad.
In just a few short months we've come to realise that Eddie Jones is not a man to select according to popular choice. Indeed he reminded us all that one of the best bits of advice he's had is that 'if you listen to the fans you'll end up in the grand stand with them'. In saying that he wasn't trying to knock, diminish or devalue the opinions of those that support England, instead it was merely a reminder that he is the man in charge and that it's his personal pinion on a player and how they'll fit into his squad that counts.
The Australian is a man that knows the playing environment that his squad are heading into better than most and is fully aware that the Wallabies will pose very different challenges to the ones that his squad have faced so far this season.
'If you look at the stats from the World Cup the difference between the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere teams is the ability to use the ball.
'So they're going to put more questions to our defence than teams did in the 6 Nations and they are going to try and play with an intensity and pace that isn't common in the Northern Hemisphere.
'It's like facing a fast bowler, the first ball you face from a fast bowler you don't see. The second ball if you're lucky you see it and it doesn't hit you and by the third ball you get on the front foot and you can hit it. That's what we need to be like, we've got to make sure that when we're ready to play the first test we're like that third ball and we're on the front foot ready to hit it.'
His answer, as to how to get to that third ball before the first test in Brisbane, was clear and simple: 'preparation, physically and mentally'. Alas his preparation time with the whole squad will be disrupted by the presence of the Premiership Final and having to play a full strength Welsh side without 6 of the starting XV that beat France. That must vex the man at the helm greatly however true to form he simply brushed it off as an uncontrollable factor and is embracing the challenge ahead;
'It's fantastic, mate. We get to play Wales again and get a chance to beat them again. There's nothing better than that is there?'
From hereon in it starts to get very interesting at International level again as we see England come together and prepare to face greater tests than were thrown at them during the RBS 6 Nations. Analysis of the 26-man squad for the Welsh game is en route this week and personally I'm extremely excited to see how this next chapter of England's development pans out over the coming weeks.
England Senior 32-man squad for Australia tour
Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley - Captain (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Paul Hill (Northampton Saints), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens).Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te'o (Worcester Warriors), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
England Senior 26-man squad for Old Mutual Wealth Cup against Wales
Forwards: Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Paul Hill (Northampton Saints), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Tommy Taylor (Wasps).Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
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