Jones hails England veterans and rookies

2017-06-18 13:28
Eddie Jones (Getty)

Santa Fe - England coach Eddie Jones hailed his Test veterans and international rookies on Sunday after a 2-0 Test series triumph in Argentina achieved without many unavailable stars.

A drop goal from outstanding flyhalf George Ford with six minutes left sealed a thrilling 35-25 second-Test victory in northeastern city Santa Fe.

Last weekend, England won an epic first Test 38-34 in San Juan thanks to a try by debutant winger Denny Solomona 100 seconds from time.

British and Irish Lions call-ups for the tour of New Zealand and injuries robbed Jones of 30 candidates for the end-of-season visit to South America.

"I thought Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown were absolutely exceptional," said 57-year-old Australian Jones, referring to two of the few "old hands" in the Santa Fe line-up.

"Both of them demonstrated why they have represented their country more than 50 times," he told reporters.

Flanker Robshaw, back after shoulder and ankle injuries ruled him out of the Six Nations Championship and the first Test in Argentina, foraged tirelessly.

Fullback Brown engineered the pick of the four England tries by leaping to intercept a cross-field kick from Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez during the opening half.

He then darted down the field and cleverly cut inside to draw defenders before passing out to centre Piers Francis, who scored.

Jones also lauded Ford, labelling his performance behind an often battling pack as "brilliant".

"It was not a great attacking game from him - he had to find another way given the circumstances.

"We did not have much ball, but kicking that field (drop) goal at the end was tactically brilliant."

Jones warned his rookies before the second Test that it might be the last chance to impress before a 45-man training squad is named during August with the World Cup in mind.

"A few of the new guys have done really well," said the architect of a sensational 2015 Rugby World Cup triumph by minnows Japan over twice former champions South Africa.

Among the forwards, Jones praised prop Harry Williams, lock Charlie Ewels and flankers Mark Wilson, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry, a teenager.

Williams, try-scorer Ewels and Underhill started in Santa Fe, Wilson came off the bench and Curry was rested after a superb first Test display.

"In the back-line, Piers Francis and Alex Lozowski are worth looking at, also Denny Solomona.

"Nathan Earle did not play, but we will keep looking at him as well," added Jones, who replaced Stuart Lancaster after 2015 World Cup hosts England made a first round exit.

"I am pleased for the young players as they have grown on this tour. It is very encouraging for me going forward."

Jones says his challenge before naming the "elite player squad" is "fitting 61 players into 45 places.

"That is the next big thing I need to do.

"The group will have a strong World Cup colour about it and certainly be more geared toward the World Cup than previous squads.

"I would estimate about 80 percent of the squad for the World Cup in Japan will come from the 45 players who form the next elite group."

While England head home to have a close-season break, Argentina move to northwestern city Jujuy for a one-off Test against Georgia next Saturday.

Read more on:    eddie jones  |  rugby


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