Eddie Jones and his coaching team are looking to the future with their England team after naming a youthful squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
Eight uncapped players are in the squad, which includes the 20-year-old Fraser Dingwall, 21-year-old Jacob Umaga, 22-year-old Ben Earl and a 23-year-old quartet of Will Stuart, Alex Moon, George Furbank and Ollie Thorley.
This is a burst of young players in what was already a fairly youthful England team, having had the youngest ever XV to start a World Cup final in the professional era.
Not only have England adopted the policy of only picking two nines in the squad, something that proved problematic in the RWC, but the age of these two as well has been highlighted.
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Leicester Tigers’ Youngs is now 30, while Gloucester’s Heinz is now 33. It is unlikely that they will both be playing in the squad in 2023.
The New Zealand-born Heinz does not necessarily deserve to lose his place given how reliable he has been for Gloucester over the past three years, but this is just a matter of age and looking to the future.
Youngs and Heinz are ancient! How on earth is this preparing for 2023! Give younger players a chance. Spencer is great, Robson is still struggling to get back to form but come on!!!! YOUNGS AND HEINZ!!! IT'S STUPID
— Josh Hafner (@JoshHafner15) January 20, 2020
No Ben Spencer is scandalous.
— Tom (@tomsilk14) January 20, 2020
While England may not have an embarrassment of riches in the scrum-half department compared to some other positions, Saracens’ Ben Spencer and Wasps’ Dan Robson are two players that are unable to break into the squad for a consistent run of games.
Both players are 27 and although they have been capped, Jones has been reluctant to rely on either of them during his tenure, although Spencer did replace the injured Heinz at the RWC.
Our scrum half choices make me genuinely sad ? and I swear we haven't picked a genuine number 8 ?
— Darren Marshall (@darren_marshy) January 20, 2020
Don't mind having Youngs in there to back up Ben Spencer but Willi Heinz again….come on!!
— bigdog (@Bigdogal63) January 20, 2020
Amazed Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds not in this squad. Equally amazed Youngs and Heinz remain as the 9s. Overall though, very happy with the blend here #carrythemhome #weartherose https://t.co/TPxUPoUHsC
— Luke Boddice (@LBoddice) January 20, 2020
Northampton’s 22-year-old Alex Mitchell is in the squad as one of two apprentice players, which is an insight into who Jones sees occupying the nine shirt nearer 2023.
His career can only blossom next season with Cobus Reinach’s departure from Franklin’s Gardens. But outside of Mitchell’s selection, the limited options at nine stand out compared to the age of the rest of the squad.
Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz. I am bemused. https://t.co/rjUhU1Wtwk
— nightwba38 (@nightwba38) January 20, 2020
What that squad also tells us is how poor the depth is at 9. Heinz is absolutely awful. Why not plump for Robson? https://t.co/WosJ0Lr794
— Chris Phillips (@ChrisPhillips_) January 20, 2020
With 97 Test caps to his name, Youngs is still worthy of an England place for his experience if anything else, and it is not inconceivable to say he will still be an international in 2023.
His long-time England competitor Danny Care found out in 2019 that it is hard to keep hold of an England place but on this occasion, Jones has stuck to the experienced and sagacious duo he used in Japan.
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