Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Coach Ready to Break Up Back Row for Aussie Tour

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Coach Ready to Break Up Back Row for Aussie Tour

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

THE harsh reality of international rugby means that Eddie Jones is ready to disband the back-row that helped England secure a first Grand Slam for 13 years by defeating France 31-21.

Billy Vunipola, the leading candidate for Six Nations Player of the Championship, Chris Robshaw (below) and James Haskell all helped erase the memory of the World Cup disaster where, under Robshaw's captaincy, they failed to get out of their pool.

serie ances Vunipo rying th Haskell was a tackling machine and brought a physicality that was badly needed, Robshaw proved his critics wrong with a series of selfless performances while Vunipola added the ball-carrying firepower that was vital in Paris. However, Jones knows that while these three were perfect for Six Nations rugby, they will not be able to counter the very different skills of the Australian back-row, who will be one of the major threats during this summer's three-Test tour.

p no ian wh du Haskell is keenly aware of the situation and said: "Eddie is always trying to bring young players through, but I have told him not back-row forwards!" The Wallabies will base their game around David Pocock, Scott Fardy and Michael Hooper, who got within touching distance of the World Cup before New Zealand retained their title.

player bac Walla aroun M t C land retaine know Jones knows he must add pace to his back-row without losing that physicality and relentless energy.

It will be the coach's most important decision as he attempts to secure victory over the secondbest team on the planet.

b impo atte to bp tCq wp Central to Jones's thinking will be Jack Clifford, the Harlequins flanker, who was given walk-on parts in the Six Nations to get him used to Test rugby and he will be favourite to fill the No7 jersey alongside Vunipola. That leaves the blind-side N u an fi alongs le flanker's role and while Haskell and Robshaw will be hard to ignore, Exeter's Dave Ewers is fully fit after recovering from injury. And from across the Severn Bridge comes Sam Underhill, who could be the most exciting English back-rower to emerge for some time.

He is just 19 and is playing for Ospreys after captaining England Under18s and Jones has already been told he could select the flanker even though he is playing "abroad". …

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