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Eddie Jones revealed player cull in brutal breakfast meeting - Charlie Ewels

By PA
England v Ireland – Autumn Nations Cup – Twickenham Stadium

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Charlie Ewels has revealed that Eddie Jones warned his England players a cull was coming at a brutal breakfast meeting in Dublin last year.

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Ireland visit Twickenham on Saturday when the rivals will battle to take their Guinness Six Nations title bid into the final round knowing that the losing side will be eliminated from contention.

The clash will unfold a year after England were crushed 32-18 at the Aviva Stadium, bringing with it a chastening fifth-place finish.

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It was a moment that Jones has subsequently described as a “line in the sand” and although the Rugby Football Union had yet to conduct its review into the worst performance in its Six Nations history, Jones was already planning to sweep away elements of the old guard.

“We all got a pretty strong inkling there would be a reset first thing in the morning when he told us that in a meeting,” Ewels said.

“He literally said ‘that’s not good enough, you have got to make a decision. This is where this team is going, it’s up to me to decide who is here and it is up to you to decide to be here’.

“He didn’t make a secret of it – he obviously saw something and that is what he decided to do.

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“His challenge to the players was that we need to improve, the group needs to improve and therefore the individuals need to improve. So go away and make me pick you.”

George Ford and the Vunipola brothers were the biggest victims of Jones’ new vision for England’s future, while Jamie George and Elliot Daly have been given reprieves on account of injury and form.

“I left the meeting going ‘fair enough, that isn’t the team we want to be. That isn’t how we want to perform and this isn’t where we want to finish in a Six Nations’,” Ewels said.

Ewels started the Ireland collapse alongside Maro Itoje and the old England age-grade team-mates were reunited in the second row for the round three victory over Wales.

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Ewels recently posted on social media a photo of the pair together after an under-18 match a decade ago and the Bath captain insists they still share an empathetic partnership.

“I was in Maro’s shadow back then – and I still am now! He played the same way that he plays now – big, abrasive, a ball-carrier, getting stuck in. He’s just a heightened version of what he was back then,” Ewels said.

“In the moment in games we have a greater understanding of each other and of our strengths and weaknesses.

“Maro would probably say that his weakness is if he’s over-aroused, then he has a tendency to force things. I know that in him, I see that in him.

“I’m not going to pull him to the side, put my arm round him, but maybe there’s one brief word or moment in a break in play when we’re back together at scrums or before line-outs we’ll be talking.

“On the flip-side of that he’s one of the best players in the world at being in every play, competing.”

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