Time for Jones to Settle on His Best XV

Time for Jones to Settle on His Best XV

Time for Jones to Settle on His Best XV

 

The return of domestic rugby in England also means that the Autumn Internationals must be just about to appear over the horizon. We have around two months before those games get underway but as nations start to approach a World Cup year, they carry an added significance.

For England, a poor set of results in 2018 has led to Eddie Jones making a number of interesting selections but while the 2003 champions are being tipped in some quarters for success in Japan, the coach has just four games to decide on his best XV.

Schedule

Twickenham” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by currybet

England begin their Autumn International series on November 3rd with a clash against a South African side who heaped on the misery over the summer. After three straight defeats at the end of the 2018 Six Nations, Jones’ side arrived in South Africa determined to prove that they hadn’t become a bad side overnight but three abject displays left 2003 World Cup Coach Sir Clive Woodward describing the tour as a ‘horror show’.

England’s display at Twickenham at the start of November will offer a strong indicator as to whether they have improved since those defeats.

A testing opener gives way to the toughest fixture on the schedule as England host New Zealand at Twickenham on November 10th. The All Blacks are reigning World Champions and favourites to retain their crown in Japan in 2019 so once again, those 80 minutes will give the coach an indication as to how much work needs to be done.

Following the New Zealand game, two further home fixtures follow against Japan on November 17th and a week later versus Australia. Both matches are at Twickenham and England would be fully expecting victories in both ties.

Making up Ground

Following their dismal showing in the Six Nations and the fruitless tour of South Africa, England have slipped behind Ireland in the reckoning for Japan 2019. The All Blacks are red hot favourites to retain the crown they won in 2015 while Eddie Jones’ side are third favourites at 6/1 in bet365’s rugby union odds markets for next year’s World Cup.

The reality may be that both Ireland and England, along with the other Six Nations sides, will be battling for the consolation prize as the Northern Hemisphere’s best team. New Zealand’s dominance of the game is likely to see the All Blacks win back-to-back trophies but if Eddie Jones’ men are to mount a challenge, there is plenty of ground to make up after a dismal start to 2018.

Personnel

Ben Botica tackling Manu Tuilagi” (CC BY 2.0) by Fearless Fred

An interest shift in attitude to team selection has seen recent recalls for Danny Cipriani and Chris Ashton while it’s also thought that Jones was looking at Manu Tuilagi prior to the Leicester man’s recent injury.

It’s not quite a case of picking the best team and the ban on players plying their trade overseas has seen to that but the coach is clearly looking for the best available men, irrespective of any past indiscretions.

There is a Six Nations to be played at the beginning of the New Year and a chance for redemption but the road to Japan starts with the Autumn Internationals and a time for Eddie Jones to decide on his most likely starting XV for the 2019 World Cup.