Jones excited by England injury challenge | Ralph Lauren

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England’s Eddie Jones faces a considerable dual challenge of dealing with a rash of withdrawals from his squad and a succession of coaching disruptions as he prepares his defence of the Six Nations championship.

Yet the irrepressible Australian coach reckons that, in all the adversity, he can see a “great opportunity” for the World Cup finalists.

Jones is without half his first-choice pack after Sam Underhill joined Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola on the injured list, with Joe Marler ruling himself out for family reasons and Kyle Sinckler suspended from next week’s opener against Scotland at Twickenham.

Jones himself is approaching the end of his isolation after assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for COVID-19 and he’s had to parachute in Ed Robinson – the son of former England coach Andy – to replace new skills coach Jason Ryles, who opted to remain in Australia.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, as weird as it seems for a head coach to say, it excites me,” Jones said at the remote Six Nations launch event on Wednesday.

“We’re going to have to find solutions with the new guys coming in, we’ll have to work harder to get those connections right.

“Some of the younger guys who have had lesser leadership roles will have to step up to the mark.

“We’ve got someone like Ellis Genge who’s now an elder statesmen. Four years ago he was a young kid on the block, So that shows how the team has evolved.”

Captain Owen Farrell, whose last taste of competitive rugby was nailing the sudden-death extra time penalty against France that won England the Autumn Nations Cup on Dec. 6, is hardly likely to need any external motivation in his preparation.

However, he also recognised the excitement that comes with the next wave of talent knocking at the door.

“I’m sure the new lads will bring a bundle of energy to the sessions,” he said, adding of his own situation: “It’s been nice almost to have a little pre-season before coming in, but I cannot wait to play some rugby.”

The more cynical of observers might suggest it is a long time since England played any rugby, after they secured the delayed Six Nations and then the Nations Cup on the back of a dour, kick-inspired approach in a series of forgettable encounters.

Jones, as ever, gave the idea of “attractive rugby” short shrift.

“The one thing we were disappointed about in the autumn was that we never played as well as we could,” he said.

“We are trying to find a way to dominate for every minute of the game. Some games, that might be through the set piece, some through the breakdown, some ruck and run, some ruck and kick – it’s about adapting to the game and the conditions.”



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