Rome - While Eddie Jones has a "pretty
good idea" of his squad for a crucial Six Nations clash against Ireland in
a fortnight, there is a pretty good chance Jonathan Joseph will be in his
England, who flopped out of the World Cup
as hosts last autumn, saw Joseph score three second-half tries on his second
consecutive start as Jones' men followed last week's battling 15-9 win over
Scotland at Murrayfield with a 40-9 dismantling of Italy in Rome.
Having escaped the injuries so dreaded
against the usually physical Italians, England are now set for two weeks of
intense focus on beating Ireland in a fortnight.
"We've had two games and two wins and
no major injuries, so we're sailing along pretty well at the moment," said
Jones, who became England's first foreign head coach when he replaced Stuart
Lancaster in the wake of their World Cup flop.
England have finished runners-up in the
last four Six Nations and are set to welcome an Irish side bent on atoning for
an opening draw with Wales and Saturday's 10-9 defeat to France in Paris.
But Jones, sounding jovial and bullish
after a much-improved second-half performance saw Bath's Joseph score his
maiden England hat-trick, says he has already seen enough to know the nucleus
of his matchday squad.
"I've got a pretty good idea in my
head at the moment," said the Australian.
He added: "For each game we'll have a
particular gameplan and depending on who is suitable for that game will
Jones ruffled a few feathers when he
demanded England give Italy a good 'smacking' in Rome, but after resisting on
their way to trailing 11-9 at half-time Italy finally caved in.
When an alert Joseph intercepted Leonardo
Sarto's misplaced pass to Michele Campagnaro in the 52nd minute, Italy's heads
began to drop.
"The turning point was the
interception try. It changed the game for us from a mental point of view,"
said Italy captain Sergio Parisse.
The speed and alertness of England's
replacements was soon felt, and error-stricken Italy were hastened to a
chastening defeat when Joseph added another two and Owen Farrell one.
For Jones, who was manager of Australia
when Jonny Wilkinson's last-minute drop goal secured England the 2003 World
Cup, it was all part of the plan.
"We weren't expecting to score a lot
of points in the first half, we were expecting to do that in the second half
and that's how it turned out," he said.
"We could have easily scored 60 points
Italy's only real complaint was the mid-air
tackle dished out to Luke McLean by James Haskell, but Parisse said it could
not excuse Italy's deficiencies.
"When you concede 40 points and lose
like this, you can't start complaining about certain decisions made by the
referee," said Parisse, who missed a late drop goal that would have
secured victory over France last week.
Jones, meanwhile, was quick to credit the
24-year-old Joseph, while taking the media to task for suggesting the Bath
centre had previously fallen out of favour.
The Australian said it was "a lot of
talk from you guys, not from me. Let's get that right. He wasn't under pressure
for his spot. You guys had him under pressure."
He added: "I thought he was very good.
Last week, his defence was outstanding... sometimes, in a 13's job, you don't
get a lot of ball. Today he did, and he was sharp on his feet."
Flyhalf Farrell, who finished with 17
points, said of Joseph: "He's sharp... he's a classy rugby player at the
same time. He doesn't make many mistakes and makes a lot of good
Joseph, who also played a full game against
Scotland, played down suggestions had been trying to prove a point.
"I wouldn't say so. It was more a case
of just wanting to do my country proud, my family proud. I don't take any game
lightly, I want to prove myself every game and put in as much effort as I
possibly can," he said.
"I'm obviously very happy to get the
hat-trick, but I'll go back to the drawing board next week. There's areas to my
game that weren't outstanding today and I have to make sure that's top notch
for two weeks' time."