It was clear from the moment that he took the role as England's head coach that this will be 'Eddie Jones' England'. England Rugby in 2016, and beyond, will be a team of players and management that beats to the sound of his drum and one that answers to him, and him alone.
This is something that we are sure of, however in terms of any of the other particulars - his captain, his squad and his playing philosophy we are all in still largely the dark. What we do know is that Eddie wants to ensure that England go back to their heartland of a rock solid set piece and ferocious defence. However in terms of the key area of scrutiny and focus, attack, Eddie has simply said that he will shape a game plan around the players that he has at his available to him. Of course this makes total sense however, until he and indeed we, know who those players are then we cannot begin to dive into the detail of what England's attacking philosophy might be. That said, if it has the ambition and flair that England showed in the last RBS 6 Nations, in particular during that thrilling finale against France, then I for one will be pleased.
As for the talent that may be housed in his first EPS squad, again that is an area that we can only speculate on. For the past few years we have all known the names that have been shoe-ins, individuals that unless they are injured were certain to make any England squad. However as the new man in charge Eddie has the opportunity to select whomever he wants from the Aviva Premiership, regardless of experience, track record or anything else surrounding an player. There are no shoe-ins and with this comes excitement as well as the unpredictability that I spoke about earlier. Now, in January 2016 no English qualified player in the Aviva Premiership is off the table, bar those that are injured, and it is an extremely talented pool to select from.
Eddie's role is one of the most exciting, and yet daunting, in World Rugby. He has every resource that he could need at his disposal, expect perhaps those players that are foreign based, however the one luxury that he does not have is time. The run into the RBS 6 Nations is always brief, historically England have a week in camp together before the first match and then endeavour to build form during the competition. This year's opening opponents will be more settled as although Scotland's World Cup ended in heartbreak, it was deemed to be a huge success while we all know what England's was deemed to be.
Right now Eddie should be getting down to the nitty gritty of his squad for over the past month he should have seen enough to formulate his 'ideal XV' and squad. The question that we don't know is how much he'll select purely on current form versus what players have done in the jersey before? If form, in the purest sense, is the be all and end all, then we could see a very different England back line and conceivably one that runs from 9 to 15 a little like; Danny Care, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Brad Barritt, Elliot Daly, Chris Ashton and Mike Brown. However what of Bath's players... they are currently part of a side that is struggling to find its feet however you cannot discount the talent and proven credit that Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and George Ford have in an England jersey. Then we look to the forwards; who is Eddie's out and out seven, for although he admitted to being 'a bit naughty' when he wrote about Chris Robshaw as a pundit back in September his views were strong and I doubt will have changed. The words were;
'He is a six-and-a-half at best. He's not hard over the ball and he's not quick. He's a useful player but he's definitely not an out-and-out openside.'
Needless to say I don't expect to see Chris wearing 7 in the RBS 6 Nations however for his outstanding work rate and contribution that he can give to any back-row I would like to see him in Eddie's squad. Up front the rumour mill expects the return of Dylan Hartley at Hooker but is he to be captain as well? Then what of the second row and rest of the pack?
The long and the short of it is that Eddie Jones has some serious thinking to do and pressure on his shoulders to nail it first time. He is expected to announce his EPS squad in just a week's time and today, on the 6th January, there are just 31 days until the BT Murrayfield Stadium awaits Jones and his side for their first International encounter. For Jones time is of the essence and for the rest of us we must exercise a spot of patience ahead of a most intriguing few weeks and months.Suggest a correction