• Callum Pattison

Are Eddie Jones' squad selections becoming outdated?

Eddie Jones has done a stellar job since being appointed as head coach of the England national team. However, after the opening 2 games of the 2021 6 Nations, I can't help but notice that some of the squad selections are becoming questionable and ultimately is impacted performances negatively.

Instant Impact

I do think it is important to look at some of the incredible achievements that Eddie Jones has delivered to English international rugby since 2015. He had a difficult job on his hands when he landed the job - this was right off the back of what was a truly horrific 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign on home turf for England. Jones was still able to make an instant impact.

In 2016, Jones guided England to the 6 Nations Grand Slam; this would be the nations first Grand Slam title for 13 years. 2016 also saw him guide England to a 3-0 test series win away in Australia - the first time England have ever done this.

Eddie Jones eventually suffered his first loss as England Head Coach in the final game of the 2017 6 Nations away in Dublin. Despite the 13-9 loss, England still managed to claim the 6 Nations title for the 2nd consecutive year under the tutelage of Eddie Jones.

2019 was also a year to remember for English rugby. England managed to overcome hurdle after hurdle defeating the likes of New Zealand and Australia in impressive fashion to reach the 2019 Rugby World Cup final. South Africa would go on to become champions however, it was still huge achievement for Eddie Jones and English rugby to make the grand final.

Is he picking his favourites?

No matter what the sport, whether it is rugby or football, there will always come a time when a manager/head coach comes under huge amounts of pressure.

As fans, we can't help but point out from the comfort of our living rooms what we think the problem is. This is exactly the case when it comes to the England squad. For me, the squad selections are baffling. Why are we not seeing some of the new, young, bright English prospects getting their chance? Instead it is the same old faces and some are no longer good enough for international level.

It is as if Eddie Jones is just content with picking his 'favourites'. Let's look at the first 6 Nations game this year. England were beaten by Scotland at Twickenham - the first time this has happened since 1983. England's starting 15 for this game featured 5 Saracens players. To put that into context, that is one third of the entire team. Maro Itoje (who should be captain very soon) Jamie George, Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly all started this game. All are Saracens players.

Nothing against Saracens (apart from cheating to win the league a few times), but they haven't played a game since October 4th. Not including the Trailfinders Cup games agaisnt Ealing and Doncaster where they played fringe players. So how are these Sarries players that played against Scotland walking into a huge 6 Nations opener when they haven't played a game of rugby for 4 months? It doesn't take a genius to work out that they won't have any match fitness.

Maybe Eddie Jones doesn't believe that there is anyone better to play? That would be silly though when you look at the range of talent that is coming through the ranks of English rugby in 2021. Let's take a look.

Who should be getting a chance?

9 and 10 are absolutely critical to any team. This is something that needs to be addressed in the England camp. Personally, I like Owen Farrell and he still deserves to be in the England set-up. Whether or not he's a starter is a different conversation. The most recent England game (vs Italy) saw England operate with Ben Youngs and George Ford at 9 and 10. Both offer very minimal amounts and simply aren't good enough at international level anymore.

Who would I have there? Harry Randall of the Bristol Bears at scrum-half and Joe Simmonds of Exeter Chiefs at fly-half. Randall is currently featured in the England 6 Nations setup but hasn't yet been picked for either of 23-man squads against Scotland and Italy. Why is this? I wish I knew. Could there trust issues? Who knows. Randall is quick at the breakdown and is always looking to get the Bears on the front-foot in the Premiership. He needs to be a starting 15 player for England now.

Joe Simmonds is another head-scratcher. He plays every week for the Chiefs, boasts some of the best tee-kicking stats in the world and just recently captained Exeter to winning the 2019/20 Premiership title and the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup. In doing so, he became the youngest player to captain a side to victory in the final of the European Cup. Am I not getting something here? How he is not England's starting fly-half every game is strange. Almost as strange as how he never gets called up altogether.

When discussing Joe Simmonds, it is also worth mentioning his brother Sam. Sam Simmonds has only played a handful of games for England but, based on current form, should be playing much more and should be one of the first names on the teamsheet. Sam was also a part of the dominant Exeter Chiefs side last season that won the double. He also has 11 tries so far this season after just 10 games. His threat off the base of a scrum and at the breakdown is something that Eddie Jones should potentially be looking to utilise.

There are other names as well that I would like to see get given that opportunity in an England shirt. Wasps man Paolo Odogwu has been sensational as of late. A real powerhouse with a knack for beating defenders - he can also be played in the centre or out wide on the wing. Alex Dombrandt, Freddie Steward and Ben Loader are also other candidates who have been standouts so far this season and are more than deserving of a chance to represent England at senior level.

I would love to hear your opinions. Leave a comment and let me know who you would have playing or if you would make any changes.

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