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Why Dombrandt is ready now for England two years on from RWC cut

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has explained why the time is right for Alex Dombrandt to finally win his debut cap for England nearly two years after he was edged out of selection for the World Cup in Japan when the final cut was made to reduce the squad to 31. Dombrandt had enjoyed an eye-catching breakthrough season at Harlequins in 2018/19 and while he came within an agonising whisker of getting England selection for the finals in Japan, he has since had to bide his time to get a look-in again. 

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A Gallagher Premiership title winner on June 26 with his club, Dombrandt was one of four Harlequins players called up by England following that victory over Exeter and the No8 has now been given the chance to win his first cap after getting picked in a starting Test XV featuring five changes from last Sunday’s win over the USA.  

Asked why the time is now right for the 24-year-old to gain England recognition, Jones said: “Alex was in our World Cup squad right up until the final cut so we have been watching him with interest. His form this season with Harlequins has been a real progression in his game. He has got unique running skills and he has improved the defensive part of his game, so he gets a great opportunity on Saturday to display those skills and he has good combinations with Marcus (Smith) which will help him.

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“He is continually learning about the game. No8 is an important position in the team because he has got to ensure you go forward when you haven’t got go forward and you have got to stop the opposition when they are going forward.

“They have got to be a good reader of the game and given his probably light rugby experience before Harlequins, he has had to work really hard to read the game and be an effective No8. Callum Chick did really well for us last week, so we are looking forward to Alex continuing on in that 8 jersey.” 

Midfielder Dan Kelly, winger Adam Radwan and lock Harry Wells are the other three players poised to win their first caps in a team where six starters and two others on the bench are lined up for their second caps following last Sunday’s debut appearances. “It’s a great opportunity individually for players. Four more with new caps, some playing their second cap which is always a bit harder than the first because you build yourself up and you have got to work hard to get back to the right spot.

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“But we have had a really good training week, the team has prepared well and we are looking forward to playing against a Canada side which traditionally has always been physically tough so we know the first 20 minutes particularly is going to be difficult.”

One of the six starters with just a single cap is the full-back, Freddie Steward. “Talent is the easy part,” continued Jones. “There is the old saying, talent gets you through the door but it is then how hard you work and he is one of those players that has got talent but the test of him now is how he keeps developing, how he keeps looking to see how he can add to his game and he certainly made a good debut last week and there is no reason why we shouldn’t see a better performance from him this week.”

 

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Why Dombrandt is ready now for England two years on from RWC cut

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