England boss Eddie Jones hasn’t written off the chances of Wasps’ Paolo Odogwu eventually emerging as a credible Test level pick, claiming that the eight weeks the rookie has spent in camp during the 2021 Guinness Six Nations have been beneficial even though he hasn’t played a single minute.
Having spurned an approach by Italy this winter, Odogwu arrived into the England set-up at the end of January on the back of a great run of try-scoring form with Wasps, with whom he had just signed a contract extension.
However, his stellar club form at outside centre and on the wing didn’t carry over into the international scene as he didn’t gain selection for any of England’s five championship matches.
It means Odogwu will return to Wasps next week having not played any match since his club’s January 8 Gallagher Premiership win at Bath, but Jones has insisted he will return to Coventry a much better player than he was when he first linked up with England when they were at St George’s Park.
“We are really pleased with the way he is going,” said Jones about Odogwu after an England team featuring the recalled Elliot Daly was named to take on Ireland on Saturday with Joe Marchant chosen as their 23rd man despite only arriving into the squad at the start of this week.
Not even a place on the bench for the Wasps star. https://t.co/tf1SsSX1R6
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 18, 2021
“Some players need a period of adaption. He will be a much better player, well he is a much better player and if he keeps working hard on his game and keeps attending to areas of his game that he needs to be to be a Test player, he is going to be a great prospect.
“We are really pleased with the way he is going but for this game, given the context of the game against Ireland where it is going to be a huge aerial game, we feel that Joe Marchant is better coming off the bench for us.”
Odogwu’s latest omission sparked much online criticism but Joe Launchbury, his Wasps club captain who missed the Six Nations due to injury, had echoed Jones’ opinion earlier this week when quizzed by RugbyPass.
“A lot of people probably look at it as a negative for Paolo but there is an argument both ways. I’m sure there is certainly an argument for him playing a lot of minutes and racking up some games, but I’m expecting Paolo to come back next week with a sort of real excitement the way he wants to play.
“He has hung around with the best players in the country the last eight weeks. He has seen the way they train, has seen how they prepare, how professional some of those guys are, the extras they do to try and get themselves to where they need to be. For me, that is really exciting for Paolo.
“Although he has not got the minutes I’m sure he was desperate to get and I’m sure he would have loved to have been capped, if he comes back here with the right attitude – and I have no doubt he will – it will be a short time before he is back in there playing properly (for England).”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 17, 2021
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