Rugby Union

Eddie Jones may rue conservative England Six Nations squad selection

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Fans and pundits alike were expecting all sorts of change in this year's English Six Nations squad, but to no avail.

Eddie Jones is very much his own man; he has brought in his own staff and imposed his own style on the England group since taking the job last November.

However, in terms of team selection, the Australian has so far failed to differ from the man he replaced, Stuart Lancaster.


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In-form players like Matt Mullan, Elliot Daly and Maro Itojo have been left out of the match day 23 while specialist openside Jack Clifford has only made the bench.

The only changes in the pack have involved the reinstallment of Dylan Hartley in addition to Chris Robshaw swapping jerseys with James Haskell.

Following these tweaks, the six jersey has been filled by former captain Robshaw as Haskell moves to seven.

These rotations do not provide Jones with solutions to any of the problems he inherited from Lancaster, such as a lack of competitive line-out jumpers and breakdown operators.

Like Robshaw, Haskell is at his best playing six and a half, whereas Billy Vunipola is an out-and-out eight. None of them are much use in the line-out role either given they're on the short and stocky side.

Additionally, while all three are excellent ball carriers and good defenders, their impact on the ground and at the breakdown leaves a lot to be desired.

This problem may well be exacerbated by the long-awaited return of Scotland's John Barclay to international rugby.

Barclay and John Hardie are both excellent openside flankers and could combine to good effect with another strong fetcher in WP Nel, potentially causing England serious problems at the breakdown.

Dan Cole is the man tasked with combating this threat as a strong breakdown operator, but he is far from the quickest around the field.

Alongside Barclay, Scotland have named David Denton, Richie Gray and Johnny Gray in a strong line-out.

Jones has opted to make minimal changes in the back line, too. Jack Nowell and Danny Care take starting berths while Owen Farrell is shunted to inside centre to accommodate fly-half rival George Ford. It will be interesting to see if the two can play together as a unit.

An England victory is not completely out of the question, but Scotland will likely give them a headache or two at the breakdown and line-out.

Can England down the Scottish this weekend? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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England Rugby
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