England absentees underline scale of recovery


England absentees underline scale of recovery

In Summary

  •  The most impressive aspect of England’s November series was the list of players who had nothing to do with it, as gradually, Eddie Jones has developed the strength in depth essential for a realistic tilt at next year’s World Cup.
  • Saturday’s 37-18 win over Australia followed victories over South Africa and Japan, and an agonising one-point defeat by world champions New Zealand.

The most impressive aspect of England’s November series was the list of players who had nothing to do with it, as gradually, Eddie Jones has developed the strength in depth essential for a realistic tilt at next year’s World Cup.

Saturday’s 37-18 win over Australia followed victories over South Africa and Japan, and an agonising one-point defeat by world champions New Zealand.

It was a productive autumn for England, coming off the back of a poor Six Nations and June series defeat in South Africa, and saw Jones back to his ebullient best.

The success was achieved without Mako and Billy Vunipola, Ellis Genge, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, Anthony Watson, Tom Curry, Jonathan Joseph and, on Saturday, Jack Nowell and Chris Ashton.

“That’s for starters,” Jones said after name-checking the absentees. “We’ve got great competition. To be the best in the world you’ve got to push hard.”

All national teams operate against a backdrop of injuries and not all of those listed are by any means guaranteed a spot in the starting XV when England return to action with a daunting trip to Ireland to kick off their Six Nations in February.

Some of them, certainly the world-class Vunipola brothers, will undoubtedly give the side a boost, but the impressive displays of some of the new kids on the block have certainly lifted the spirits of England supporters.

Giant Fiji-born winger Joe Cokanasiga scored his second try in as many games on Saturday and his robust style gives Jones a real power option on the wing, where he likes to have “one workhorse and one speedster”.

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