Jones Vows to 'Change History' as He Begins New Era

The Eddie Era has begun with the new England head coach pledging \"to make players uncomfortable\", in his quest \"to change history\".

Published: 14th January 2016 10:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2016 10:00 AM   |  A+A-

LONDON: The Eddie Era has begun with the new England head coach pledging "to make players uncomfortable", in his quest "to change history".

Change was certainly the tone of Jones's first set-piece conference with a squad moulded in the -manner of the man, bristling, edgy, ruth-less and challenging. There were nine front-line casualties from Stuart Lancaster's last offering, boasting 297 caps between them, the bombshell omission that of the Leicester hooker Tom Youngs. No Tom Wood or Ben Morgan either, and only two scrum-halves.

There are seven uncapped players with a bright future, from the much-touted Maro Itoje to the rookie Northampton tighthead Paul Hill. Bill Beaumont's son, the Sale forward Josh, also gets the nod.

As befits a son of Empire, the -Aus-tralian has little time for -prevailing orders. Jones does not believe in privilege or establishment. He intends to demolish any semblance of a comfort zone. Boot camp -beckons, with Jones admitting that he would be happy to hear players com-plaining. "It is going to take more than they have ever done in their lives to create a winning team, that's the reality of it, because otherwise it would have happened before, so something has to change," Jones said. "If we do the same as we have done since 2003 then we will get the same results.

"England are ranked fourth in Europe on results since then. We have got to work hard to change that history. The players have got to be desperate for success, hungry to succeed. I do believe, though, that there is the potential for four or five of this squad to become world-class, and that is what you need to -become a dominant team."

There are no uncertainties in the Jones mindset, right down to the acknowledgement that his 'honeymoon period ends' on the day -before England travel to Edinburgh to take on Scotland on Feb 6 in the opening match of both his reign and the 2016 Six Nations championship. Jones is bright, savvy, sharp-witted and good copy. And yet, as he stated several times during a bracing spell in front of the cameras and notebooks - "it is all about -beating Scotland". He will be cut -little slack for wisecracks if England are dumped on their backsides by a "Top of the Pops" Scottish side as Jones put it.

Jones knows that results alone shape perception. To that end, he acknowledged that it is unlikely that any of the new boys would -feature at Murrayfield on the basis that, as he put it: "You wouldn't pick a new [Australian] batsman to face that famous West Indian fast-bowling attack [of the Seventies] at the Waca in Perth."

There is a discernible emphasis on getting England's basics in shape, with nine front-rowers and just the bare minimum at half-back with Ben Youngs, Danny Care, George Ford and Owen Farrell on duty. There is no place in those ranks for the likes of Danny -Cipriani or Richard Wigglesworth or Wasps' Joe Simpson.

Jones refused to offer any -speci-fic reason as to why Tom Youngs, who started all of England's World Cup games, had been ditched, -noting that "there were many fine-line -selection calls". The Daily Telegraph understands that Youngs has been advised to improve his ball-carrying and tackle counts.

Exeter's Luke Cowan-Dickie gets his opportunity, with Saracens' Jamie George pushing to show Jones that Dylan Hartley should not a be a shoo-in as hooker in his new guise of prospective England captain. Jones conceded that Hartley "was short of a run", in terms of proving his fitness, adding that his captain has to be "one of the first names on the teamsheet, has to be one of your best players and has to set your standards". Hartley, of course, first has to get into Northampton's starting XV.

Injury has shaped Jones's hand, particularly in the troublesome -inside-centre sector, Jones accepting that Farrell will "definitely be a consideration" for the Calcutta Cup in that position. What was revealing was that Jones gave -currency to the view that Manu -Tuilagi will vie for that position when he gets back to full fitness. The Leicester centre is effectively in the squad the -moment he is restored to full health after just 25 minutes of action since a 15-month spell on the -sidelines with a groin problem.

"Manu can be a Ma'a Nonu-type player," Jones said. "He has got an exceptional skill-base and exceptional feet. I want a 12 that can take the ball through the line. Manu can be one of the guys that the team is built around." Jones sees the -injured Exeter player Henry Slade as a "10 or 12", and not as an outside centre where his focus is on Jonathan Joseph and Elliot Daly.

There were encouraging words for the prodigal son, Chris Ashton, who fell out of favour with the -Lancaster regime. "He is as mad as a cut snake," was Jones's take on the Saracens wing, rather like the coach himself. "He plays with a lot of -emotion and he is a real winner to me. He scores tries. He can return to his X-factor, 100 per cent."

If the same were true of all concerned, then Jones would be a happy man. As it is, the radical cull has thrown up many questions. Jones's England congregate for the first time on Jan 25. The camp will be at their usual base, Pennyhill Park. Little else will be the same since last they were there, that is for sure.

By Mick Cleary


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