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Jones delighted with ‘New England’ after Autumn Nations Series causes selection headaches

Jones delighted with ‘New England’ after Autumn Nations Series causes selection headaches

Eddie Jones revealed he was thrilled with the rapid rise of his ‘New England’ after a productive Autumn Nations Series intensified the competition for places.

Jones oversaw an undefeated campaign with wins over Tonga, Australia and world champions South Africa in consecutive weeks at Twickenham.

England’s head coach previously made no secret about his desire to refresh the Red Rose after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations and young guns like Marcus Smith and Freddie Steward were blooded in the summer against the USA and Canada and have played starring roles in the Autumn Nations Series.

Jones said: “It’s been really positive. Over the last two weeks we’ve beaten the third-best team in the world [Australia] and the best team in the world [South Africa].

Bryan Habana’s Team of the Series

“We’ve had our challenges in terms of Covid and a number of injuries, so maybe some young guys we thought weren’t ready to play at that level of game have been given their opportunity and acquitted themselves really well.

“So, we’ve added to the depth, we’ve added to the competition and we’ve also added to the hunger of the side, which is really important.

“The development of some of the younger players being quicker than maybe we thought they were going to be puts enormous competitive strains on getting selected, which is a good position to be in.

“I think we’ve had 23 new caps this season and a lot of those players are going to have great careers ahead of them.

“If they keep working hard and keep that hunger for the want to get better, they are all going to have very good careers.”

Jones was delighted with the way his players hung in the battle against South Africa, the world’s No.1 side, as despite conceding 18 penalties, England prevailed 27-26 to exact some revenge for the Rugby World Cup 2019 final.

He added: “The way the players stuck at the game was fantastic. In big Test matches, sometimes you have to win the game two or three times. And we had to win the game at least two times.

Ireland’s Caelan Doris crowned Player of the Series

“In those sorts of games when things are going against you, you’ve just got to stay in the moment, which we did really well, and we didn’t allow ourselves to get too flustered.

“You know at some stage in the game, the game’s going to come back to you if you hang in there long enough. And they hung in there long enough.”

Leicester Tigers full-back Steward, who bagged the Player of the Match award against the Wallabies and South Africa, and Harlequins No.10 Smith, who showed nerves of steel to slot the match-winning penalty against the Springboks, were two of the players who made their international bows in the summer.

Up front, loosehead prop Bevan Rodd and hooker Jamie Blamire were given the chance to shine after Ellis Genge tested positive for Covid-19 while Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George suffered injuries.

And Jones reserved special praise for Australian-born hooker Nic Dolly, who capped a meteoric rise from playing for Coventry in the Championship last year to making his international debut off the bench in front of a packed Twickenham against the formidable South African pack.

“If you want me to highlight one player I will, and that’s Nic Dolly,” said Jones.

“If you consider where he’s come from – he was going back to play for Coventry, he got a call up from Leicester Tigers and played four or five games for them.

“He then finds himself in the England squad and finds himself coming up against the best pack in the world and making his debut in front of 82,000 people at Twickenham.

“What a story in terms of resilience, in terms of just keep doing your work and when the opportunity comes – take it.”

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