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Jones names the 'most professional' player he has ever coached

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has spoken enthusiastically about the continued value of Jonny May to his England set-up. The Gloucester winger is one of just six starters from last March’s miserable loss to Ireland in Dublin to be retained in the XV that will start this Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series opener versus Tonga at Twickenham.    

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While the 31-year-old May had the seasoned Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson for company in the England back three against the Irish, both of those 2021 Lions tour picks are now unavailable through injury.

That has resulted in May becoming by far the most senior figure in this sector of the team as the 66-cap left winger will have the 20-year-old, two-cap Freddie Steward alongside at full-back with the one-cap 23-year-old Adam Radwan occupying the right wing berth. 

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This combination is likely to draw much leadership skills from May to ensure the rookies accompanying him in the back three can cut the mustard in a fixture that is matchday one as England begin the countdown 22 months out from the start of the 2023 World Cup.

Jonny May is a very experienced player, understand the game well, is the consummate professional,” enthused Jones. “I don’t think I have ever coached a player who is more professional than Jonny, so his ability to read the game, communicate what is important to Freddie and Adam is going to be really important for us.

“We want trademark games out of them,” continued the coach when asked specifically what he hopes to see from Steward and Radwan. “To play with a lot of effort, a lot of control and get the opportunity to bring their special talents to the game. Both have come through a summer series, been back to their clubs, played well and they have come into the more senior squad and continued to impress.”

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Especially Steward who had Jones drawing comparisons between the youngster and ex-England full-back Mike Brown. “He is a similar sort of player to Mike Brown but a much taller version, courageous in the air, good work rate around the field and goodness me, if he can be as good as Mike Brown he is going to be a good player.”

Also featured in the England backline selection conversation ahead of Saturday’s series opener was Manu Tuilagi, who is set to make his first appearance at Test level since his March 2020 red card versus Wales.  

“Certainly all his preparation has been first class. He is in great physical condition. Sale have done an outstanding job with him and we would really like to thank Alex Sanderson and their staff for what they have done to Manu. It is like he is going to win his first cap on Saturday at the moment so we are all excited about what we are going to see from him.”

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