Following the 24-17 loss to France on Sunday in the opening game of the Six Nations, much of the rhetoric from England coach Eddie Jones has been around refusing to make changes and not listening to fans.
The Australian has always been quite conservative with alterations between matches – regardless of the result – and this has brought him a lot of success. He has plenty of trust in his players and often backs them to come good.
However, after a humbling loss in Paris, where England trailed 24-0 at one point, there were vocal demands all week for changes and Jones has responded by making five to the starting XV.
The Gloucester nine posed a threat in the latter stages of that Test and had England looking more dangerous when carrying near the ruck during their fightback.
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The lock by no means had a bad game at blindside but is still better suited to the engine room in the scrum. Maro Itoje’s long-time England and Saracens partner George Kruis comes in for Charlie Ewels, in what is another move that has proved popular.
Had to be changes after Paris. Good to see Heinz starting https://t.co/wEUjjlYQS6
— James Barker (@LWOS_JBarker) February 6, 2020
Buzzing for Willi Heinz starting against the Scots tomorrow. He changed the game last time out against France. Very calm presence on the squad #SCOvENG
— Jake (@JakeAtkins96) February 6, 2020
Lawes and uncapped Ben Earl will also provide an almighty impact from the bench, which is perhaps what England lacked in Paris.
The Saracen offers pace and power in the back row while towering lock Lawes has put in some of his best performances for England in cameos from the bench, with his trademark bone-crunching tackles in the final quarter.
Tom Dunn is also poised to make his debut from the bench, replacing Luke Cowan-Dickie who has returned home for personal reasons.
Liking the balance now. Kruis had to come back in. Give Furbank another chance at FB. Heinz at SH much better than Youngs. Curry at 8 needs to prove himself in that position however. Buzzing to be in Edinburgh this weekend – come on ENG! https://t.co/ssWjJOaAk6
— Alexander Kelly (@alexanderkelly_) February 6, 2020
Kruis should improve the line out.
At least there are three back row players.
It felt like Youngs' position has been too comfortable and it'll do him no harm to be dropped.
Pleased Genge has kept his place.
— Stephen Allen (@Elephantlens) February 6, 2020
With that being said, there are still some aspects of the selection that have not been well received, chiefly the insistence to play Tom Curry at No8.
However, after saying that he wanted to turn the Sale Sharks man into a specialist in that position, it would have been strange if Jones bowed to the demands of fans. In a more balanced back row, this decision may actually pay off in Murrayfield.
Don't know why Curry is at 8, he's a superb 7 and should be put there and draft in a number 8. Glad to see Heinz get the start, should have happened a while ago though
— Ben Hardwick (@benn121) February 6, 2020
Other than Curry at 8 it looks far more balanced
— Sidney (@SidneyUnchained) February 6, 2020
Elsewhere, Ollie Thorley looked tipped to earn his first cap this weekend following the injury to Manu Tuilagi. While Jonathan Joseph has moved into a starting berth, Jones has opted to fill the vacant space on the bench with Joe Launchbury, making a 6-2 forwards/backs split.
This has rarely been done by the coach before and may be influenced by forwards coach Matt Proudfoot, but in what are going to be testing conditions in Edinburgh, this is an insight into how England are approaching the game.
What does Ollie thorley need to do to get in the 23?! What a joke
— Ash Skinner (@AshleySkinner19) February 6, 2020
Mako Vunipola was always expected to return to the squad, having missed out through injury to Joe Marler against Fabien Galthie’s side. England lacked his prowess with the ball in hand against a brutal French defence, and this is yet another change that brings more promise ahead of the Calcutta Cup Test.
A response is expected from England this weekend as they hope to get their campaign back on track, and Jones looks to have addressed many of the issues that were flagged in France.
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