Eddie Jones believes the inexperience of his bench for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Ireland is a¬†firm indication of the evolution that has taken place in the England set-up since their appearance in last year’s World Cup final in Japan.


England lost that decider to the Springboks in Yokohama with a bench that contained 313 caps but that number is 206 less for Twickenham this weekend (107) and would fall even more dramatically to just 38 if the 69 caps which George Ford has were overlooked.

Luke Cowan-Dickie (20 caps), Joe Marler (67), Dan Cole (94), George Kruis (40), Mark Wilson (17), Ben Spencer (3), Henry Slade (26) and Jonathan Joseph (46) were the eight players who featured on the bench a year ago when the world final was lost.

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Slade and Joseph will feature in Jones’ starting XV against the Irish but the other subs from a year ago are absent for a variety of reasons. This has left the coach selecting a bench made up of Tom Dunn (2 caps), Ellis Genge (20), Will Stuart (5), Jonny Hill (1), Ben Earl (5), Dan Robson (4), Ford (69) and Max Malins (1).

Rather than feel pessimistic that his so-called finishers have mostly had little exposure at Test level, Jones instead expressed excitement at the potential they bring as England look to build on their Six Nations title-clinching win over Italy and last weekend’s opening round Nations Cup success versus Georgia.

“That is just how he 23 gave fallen but they do have the ability to do that,” said Jones about the potency he has in reserve for the visit of the Irish. “We’re excited about where the team is going. If you look at that bench and take George Ford out, the most experienced player there, and Ellis Genge, who has played 20 Tests and most of those have been off the bench – it’s a young set of finishers for us.


“It shows the evolution of the team, where the team is moving. It’s going into another generation change and we’re excited about where they can go but we know any generational change in the team is difficult. Experience is a massive thing in Test rugby and you need that time to play Test rugby to get things right consistently. We’re looking forward to that area progressing.”

Asked about the inclusion of Earl, Jones enthused: “He’s our most versatile back-rower. He can play six, seven or eight or could even play 11 or 14 for us. It gives us great cover.”

ENGLAND BENCH (vs Ireland, November 2020)
16. Tom Dunn (Bath, 2 caps)
17. Ellis Genge (Leicester, 20)
18. Will Stuart (Bath, 5)
19. Jonny Hill (Exeter, 1)
20. Ben Earl (Bristol, 5)
21. Dan Robson (Wasps, 4)
22. George Ford (Leicester, 69)
23. Max Malins (Bristol, 1)

ENGLAND BENCH (vs South Africa, November 2019)
16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter, 20)
17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 67)
18 Dan Cole (Leicester, 94)
19 George Kruis (Saracens, 40)
20 Mark Wilson (Sale/Newcastle 17)
21 Ben Spencer (Saracens, 3)
22 Henry Slade (Exeter, 26)
23 Jonathan Joseph (Bath, 46)


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