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Eddie Jones says he sees England’s tour to Argentina as a “great opportunity to test the depth of English rugby” after naming 15 uncapped players in the squad.
England play two Tests in Argentina and with 16 players called into the squad for the British & Irish Lions, Jones says he will use the tour to give some younger players valuable experience of playing international rugby.
Among them include two members of last year’s World Rugby U20 Championship squad – Joe Marchant and Harry Mallinder – as well as several members of this year’s U20 Six Nations winning side.
“What I’m looking to do is improve the squad and I feel these young guys can take the squad to a new level,” said head coach Jones.
“We are pleased for the 16 players who have been picked for the Lions tour and obviously disappointed for the guys that have missed out. “We want players who are desperate to play for England...”
“However, you miss out on the Lions tour and you get to go on the England tour so it’s not a bad second prize. We are looking forward to going to Argentina, we know it’s going to be a tough tour, they were semi-finalists at the 2015 world cup and we are playing in remote cities so it’s going to be a great test for us.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to take a combination of experienced players and some bright young talent that I’m extremely excited by.”
The squad will be led by captain Dylan Hartley, who Jones says is “excited” to go on tour having missed out on selection for the Lions.
And Jones says the focus must be on “finding players who are going to be better than the 16 players on the Lions tour”.
He added: “We’re looking to discover the best young talent in England and see how we can bring them through. To win the world cup we need to have the best and that is our ultimate aim.
“We want players who are desperate to play for England, who are obsessed by being great. If players aren’t like that, they won’t play for England.”
On uncapped Sale Shark winger Denny Solomona:
“There is something about him. He finds the line and I like wingers that find the line. He has the ability that when he gets the ball he scores a try and he still has a lot of work to do on his game but there are areas I think we can work on with him. He has that x-factor.”
All glory to the man above— Denny_Solomona (@DennySolomona) April 20, 2017
On Saracens winger Nathan Earle:
“We are looking at youth and guys that can come through, I’m interested in Nathan Earle at Saracens, he’s got great potential, is big, tall and has pace so he’s been selected ahead of Marland Yarde. There are a lot of disappointed players.”
On Piers Francis (Auckland Blues/Northampton Saints):
“I’ve watched him play a fair bit. I know he played for Doncaster a few years ago, Auckland would have been a bit of a change. He has a good kicking game, he is a big, strong lad and presents a different option for us which we’ve been looking for. He is good defensively and likes putting his head in the dark areas. He’s a handy player.”
On twin brother Tom and Ben Curry of Sale Sharks:
“I’m interested in working with the Curry brothers so that I can see if I can tell the difference. Apparently one has shorter hair and one is stockier. I’ve worked with the Ella brothers and they were hard to work out who is who. I’ve heard they’re very competitive, we’ll keep them competing. I want them to bring new energy to the team.”
On Exeter’s Jack Maunder:
“Maunder is an interesting player, a cheeky little bugger which is why I like him. His pass is okay, he looks for opportunities, makes good decisions and is a good size.”
On Sam Underhill:
“He has got good potential as an openside flanker, he is a genuine openside flanker. He’s dedicated, determined and desperate to play for England. We are very excited about him. Ospreys have done a good job bringing him through and we are grateful for the job they have done.”
.@charlieewels @George_Fordy @EnglandRugby Congratulations to @bathrugby-bound @SGUnderhill (Sam Underhill), who is in line to make his first appearance for his country in Argentina pic.twitter.com/FkXv5OrHWh— Bath Rugby (@bathrugby) April 20, 2017
On Saracens lock Nick Isiekwe:
“Second row is a focus for us, we want more depth in locks. Nick Isiekwe is potentially a very good player. If I look at him, where he is now compared to where Maro was when he came in for the RBS 6 Nations then he is going to be a very good player. He’s exciting, he’s got potential if he works hard enough, develops toughness and is obsessed to want to be great.”