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Callow England squad can thrive if Jones lets them play with freedom - Andy Goode

By Andy Goode
(Photo by PA)

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Eddie Jones has named an exciting young England squad ahead of their summer fixtures and he now has to let them express themselves. There shouldn’t be much doubt about the result against Scotland A, the USA and Canada but fans want to see all of this young talent allowed to play with freedom and replicate their club form on the international stage.


We have seen young players come into the England set-up before and disappear without a trace soon afterwards or suffer serious injuries, so I hope history doesn’t repeat itself and we see a good few of these players in more squads in the next couple of years.

There has been a lot of clamour for change and this is enforced change with twelve players involved in the British and Irish Lions tour and lots more unavailable because of the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals, but it is great to see some fresh faces get a chance.

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Freddie Steward has looked every inch an international player for Leicester this season and the likes of Adam Radwan, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Tom Parton have all been flying so I just hope they aren’t overcoached and are allowed to show what they can do. Ollie Lawrence has six caps to his name already but we have hardly seen him with the ball in hand at all in an England shirt yet, so he will be itching to impress.

Of course, you have to put systems in place but we don’t want to just see them all chasing box kicks all day long and I’m sure that won’t be the case against the three teams they are up against this summer. It’s a difficult squad to analyse in too much depth because there will be a significant amount of change on the Sunday after the Premiership semi-finals and then more after the final as well but a couple of names stand out.

Dan Kelly is one of those because the midfield is an area where England have struggled a bit in recent years, especially when Manu Tuilagi has been absent. He only turns 20 this month and was eligible for Ireland as well, so it could be a big summer for him. Chunya Munga is another to watch with the likes of Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes and Jonny Hill in the second row all away with the Lions and Joe Launchbury injured. He may only have started six times in the Premiership but I have spoken to London Irish defence coach Brad Davis about him and big things are expected.


The scrum-half situation will be a very interesting one as well with Ben Youngs given the summer off. It’s well and truly time for Dan Robson to start for England but Ben Spencer and Alex Mitchell are also hugely talented and all of those could feature prominently in the build-up to the next World Cup.

There aren’t many absentees who raise eyebrows too much but it was really sad to see David Ribbans sent off for Northampton last week because he would have definitely been in there had it not been for his ban and he would have done well.

All in all, it is obviously a very callow squad but it’s a really young and exciting one that you hope will thrive at a higher level – but I just hope the environment is one that helps them continue to flourish. Jones has been criticised a lot in recent weeks for his various coaching excursions outside of his England job but maybe he will have learned a lot from them and will bring that back and adapt his way of doing things that we have become used to.

Traditionally, the Jones way with England is very different to the sort of rugby we have been seeing in the Premiership in recent months and I just hope we don’t see these youngsters being shackled and forced to play in a way that doesn’t allow them to shine. The 34-man squad named shows the young talent is there below the familiar faces but it remains to be seen whether they will be allowed to play with freedom or constrained by the international set-up.



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