Eddie Jones continued to stamp his mark on the England Rugby set-up by naming his pre-season training squad this week.
The core of the squad that whitewashed Australia remains, but still contains surprises. There are promotions from the Under 20’s squad such as Will Evans and Joe Marchant as well as foreign exports like Nathan Hughes. However a lesser reported omission is that, yet again, of Matt Kvesic.
Matt Kvesic Misses Out Again
This is not the first time the Gloucester flanker has missed out, as covered by LWOS back in January. The incumbent number seven James Haskell was Man Of The Series in Australia and is a deserved starter. However he is injured due to his heroics down under and is likely to miss the Autumn Internationals. Therefore what better opportunity for Jones to test Kvesic in full, competitive internationals? He is now 24 and hitting the peak of his game consistently in the Aviva Premiership. Furthermore he played a key part in the England Saxons successful tour of South Africa in June, surely demonstrating he is in a great position to step up to the full side.
With three years still to go to the Rugby World Cup, this must be the time to experiment and introduce players into the squad with time to gel.
Jones has done this with younger players like prop Ellis Genge and Charlie Ewels, who clearly fit Jones’ mould and style. Yet for older players like Kvesic and others like Danny Cipriani, the door seems to be firmly shut. The latter is not even in this 45 man squad and was limited to substitute appearances in recent years.
A Danger Of Complacency
There is a danger that this squad balance may lead to complacency. The first choice players will rightly be full of confidence, having yet to lose under Jones. However some stars such as Mike Brown and Dan Cole have had their position questioned. Having untested youngsters behind them may not be strong enough competition for places. This was clear in Australia, when Jones hauled off Northampton pair Luther Burrell and Teimana Harrison after 30 minutes. On both occasions, the Head Coach deemed them so far off the standard compared to the men they replaced.
If the hostile environment of an away test series was not the place to try new faces and combinations, then it must be at home at Twickenham on more familiar territory.
There will be chances for challengers like Kvesic in the future. If injury doesn’t force it then Jones should to fully assess his options. But with the ongoing debates about salary caps and home-based rules it is little wonder England contenders look to France as they are undeservedly turned away from the national side. Jones missed an opportunity and Matt Kvesic can be rightly aggrieved.
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