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'Needed to change': The reason why England named 3 vice-captains

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has explained the reasons why he has chosen Ellis Genge, Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry as England vice-captains to back up skipper Owen Farrell in this Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup opener versus Tonga at Twickenham. Vice-captaincy was something that flew under the radar in recent times, the team naming just listing Farrell as skipper with no reference made to who was the deputy leader.

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However, Thursday’s team announcement stated how Genge, Lawes and Curry would all be vice-captains for the upcoming three-game series which also features matches versus Australia and South Africa. 

The England team chosen by Jones is an XV showing nine changes from the loss last March versus Ireland in round five of the Six Nations and having added multiple rookie players to the squad since then, Jones felt a greater need to have all bases covered when it came to the leadership of the team with the countdown now on towards the 2023 World Cup in 22 months’ time.  

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“The leadership team should always reflect the team,” suggested Jones. “The leadership team’s job is to influence and get the best out of the team and we feel that the greater the diversity in the leadership team, particularly with the number of young guys in the team, is suited by having those three guys as vice-captains. 

“There is a nice spread, Courtney has been a Test player for a number of years. Tom Curry is a young guy coming through as is Genge, so we feel like we cover the interests of the team better than we did with the previous leadership team. That is not to say they didn’t do a good job but we needed to change.

“They all bring to the party something a little bit different. Tom Curry is a very tough, aggressive player. Ellis Genge is the same, but he has also got a great set of human qualities. He had quite a tough upbringing, he understands what young players go through. 

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“Just for this game, for instance, the challenge for young players playing this Test match is enormous. A lot of them haven’t played in front of a full house and now they are going to play in front of 82,000 people against a Tongan side that hits harder than any side in the world. 

Genge’s ability to be able to relate to those players and Courtney has years of experience. He has probably seen the best and the worst of English rugby and he can share those experiences with the players, and Owen is the best man for the job as captain.

“We have got a couple of people internally, consultants to the team (helping the leadership group). We are also using Deloitte for some personal leadership programme work which has just started so it is just in its infancy at the moment, but we are certainly looking to give them the necessary support to be the best leadership team in the world.”

Saturday will be skipper Farrell’s 100th Test match appearance. He currently has 93 England caps and another six for the Lions, and Jones paid tribute to the newly minted Test centurion. “He has been a fine ambassador for English rugby.

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“He is a hard-working player, he has copped a lot of criticism throughout his career and he has had to battle hard to be a Test player and he continues to battle hard, continues to battle to be his best and we haven’t seen the best of him yet and that is the exciting thing. He is still a young man, 29 years of age. He has played nearly 100 Tests and there is still to come for him.”

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