Three players for Eddie Jones to consider for the Six Nations 2020

Ben Spencer

Eddie Jones has often showed loyalty or even favouritism in his selections, but with four years until the next Rugby World Cup, now is the time to try his hand. Several players have put themselves on the radar by performing well for their clubs in the domestic and European competitions and will be waiting anxiously by their phones.

Here are threee players who will be hoping that they have done enough to force themselves into contention. Do you agree with this list?

Jack Willis
Willis was supposed to tour South Africa in 2018 after a stellar breakthrough season with Wasps, but a ruptured ACL cut his season short before he could step foot on the plane. Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have seized the opportunity in his absence and have become two of the world’s premier flankers. Lewis Ludlam and Mark Wilson have provided solid backup to the ‘Kamikaze Kids,’ but 2019 proved that Willis is back.

England have an embarrassment of riches in the backrow. Ben Earl, Ben Curry, Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds are adding to their stock every week, but Jack Willis has the calibre and turnover nous to force his way into the reckoning.

With an ability to play 6, 7 or 8, Willis is a breakdown predator with defensive stubbornness. He worked hard on his handling during his rehab and his try-scoring instinct has seen him cross the whitewash five times during this campaign.

Ollie Thorley
Critics were forecasting Thorley as a World Cup bolter in September, but he missed out to Bath’s Ruaridh Mcconnochie. Since then, Thorley has picked up exactly where he left off, lighting up the turf at Kingsholm with his searing pace and direct running. Although Jones has had his eye on Thorley’s partner in crime, Louis Rees-Zammit, he has pledged allegiance to Wales and Thorley is ready to take his chance.

Wing is another position that is well-stocked for England, but Thorley’s highlight reel shows exactly why he should be wearing the red rose this winter. His ability to find space, beat defenders and score five pointers make him a must-pick for Jones.

Ben Spencer
He was called into last-minute action for the World Cup final but didn’t get much of a chance to prove himself on the big stage. Ben Youngs has had a vice like grip on the nine shirt for the past decade, but 2020 is the right time to try someone new. Youngs spends too much time at the breakdown and can be caught in two minds.

Spencer has developed into a classy operator under the prolonged stewardship of Richard Wigglesworth at Saracens. He has an astute kicking game, he knows when to release his backline and is a box of tricks with the ball in hand.

Dan Robson can feel hard done by if he is excluded but Spencer’s position within a dominant Saracens side has seem him become one of Europe’s leading scrum-halves.

Who else do you think should be getting the call when Eddie Jones announces his squad for the 6 Nations? Would you stick with the current faces or twist with new blood?

By Josh Cousens

34 thoughts on “Three players for Eddie Jones to consider for the Six Nations 2020

  1. SH has been a problem position for as long as Jones has been coach, hence Heinz got a late call up for the WC.
    Spencer is worth a go and it might be an idea to look at someone like Henry Taylor or Harry Randall. Something simply has to happen in this position.
    I can see Thorley getting a call. Cokanasiga is injured and McConnochie has shown zip so far this season.
    Back row is very competitive. Willis has made a strong case but so too have others. Wilson being injured does open up a spot which needs to be filled. Willis does look very good but there is something about the dynamic running and good handling of Earl that I like a lot. Ted Hill should be in the frame too.
    Up front there is a need for new blood at prop and lock. Will Stuart should get a call for the former. The latter could be Stooke, Hill or possibly Ribbans. Real pity Ewels is injured as he would have been a natural selection.
    Furbank should be included as FB isnt exactly our strongest position and this lad has got a lot of talent. Someone will need to replace Slade at centre. Shame Marchant is heading down to NZ as this could have been an opportunity. Devoto is a very solid performer, but if we want something a touch more dynamic Ollie Lawrence is the one to go for.

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    1. I agree, 9 definitely needs a shake-up. Spencer and Robson are the front runners, whilst a younger player could benefit from squad experience. Somebody like Maunder, Taylor or Randall.

      I agree the back row is a tough position to break through. Earl has been outstanding this season in a competitive Sarries pack. His explosive running should be attracting Jones’ attention, but Willis’ ability at the breakdown may just edge it in his favour.

      Centre and full back are needing attention. 13 is currently vacant. Joseph is the obvious choice but surely now is the time to experiment. I agree the loss of Marchant is a shame and I like Devoto. He’s a classy operator in the mould of Slade and could be a good option. To fill the shoes of Tuilagi, Lawrence is arguably the man to go for. Atkinson, Losowski and Sam Hill are all outside bets.

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      1. Perhaps it was a smart move by Marchant. Would Jones have actually picked him as a starter for the 6N? Not likely. The bench? No guarentees there either. By playing a stint with the Blues, now that SBW & Nonu have gone, he’ll likely get 1st choice crack at centre in a just below international level environment. At 23 he has time on his side & in the hotbed of SR, surely he can only add to his skill set & gain from an enhanced rugby experience. Longer term, Quins & England gains?

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    2. With Slade injured it wouldn’t surprise me if Eddie went for Farrell at 12, so could be interesting to see another fly half given a shot even if it’s just against Italy with Ford on the bench. Joe Simmonds, Marcus Smith?

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  2. the above 3 are no brainers for me but there are a few other gaps in the roster that need addressing. We should be replacing Cole with another Tighthead. While Williams in the obvious choice we need another for depth, I like J.Ford-Robinson or Will Stuart for that role. Jonny Hill is playing really well for Chiefs and should push himself into the second row reckoning somewhere. As much as i like Wilson i think J.Willis and A.Dombrant take his spot and it is between Dombrant and Ludlam to develop depth at 8. We need even more options that just B.Spencer at 9 so would like to see D.Robson and one other (maybe H.Taylor maybe J.Maunder). While we have depth at 10 I would like to see M.Smith continue as an apprentice and maybe J.Grayson to join him. I also want to see Daly move to the centre and for Furbank to get a shot at 15

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  3. There are a number of spots that require work in this squad I think; particularly tight head, scrum-half, midfield and FB. At tighthead I think Will Stuart, Ehran Painter and Harry Wilson are fighting it out to backup Genge. Spencer and Robson are my choice at 9. Midfield is interesting, Devoto looks back in form and I like the directness of Atkinson although I would like to see Joseph or Daly outside Tuilagi given a few games as a combo. Gutted Max Malins is injured as I would have loved to see him get a shot at FB; I really think he could have a future for England there.

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              1. Fullback is a position where age is more likely to impact performance.
                You regularly see front 5 players go into their mid 30’s but in the backs there is a loss of pace which see a dip in performance

            1. Maybe so, but before that England & Jones have an imminent & not so imminent 6N’s comp’s to win. Would Woodward likely further these ends or not? Besides, in theory at least, he could have 4 yr’s international exp by ’23. Blanket ageism isn’t necessarily constructive or appropriate.

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    1. Was about to say. All the talk of needing a centre and one of the standout performers of the season so far has now be called up for Wales. How has Eddie let that happen?!

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  4. Seems good in theory to promote the attributes of some younger players as potential England candidates. However, although the article mentions only 3, will they or others get any meaningful game time under Jones? Does he really understand the idea of rotation as opposed to the concept of finishers? I have my doubts. Also, apart from whether these 3 players will be given a chance for England, should they? The article concentrates on their attacking abilities, Willis apart. This raises the ? as to whether they are good enough on defence. Personally, I don’t know. Individuals may make a difference if they play for the national side, but it also depends on their being given enough free rein to express their inste talents, rather than their having to conform to Eddie’s vision of how they need to conform to his game plan. I mean just look how he’s repressed Daly’s game by forcing him into playing in an un-natural position at 15. Never even considered deploying Daly in his more normal post at outside centre. Mmm.

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  5. From all the above it seems the real change should be a new head coach.
    I don’t get the reasoning behind Ed staying for another two years then potentially buggering off.
    He went as far as he could with the players he thought best represented how he wants to play the game. Time for a new broom IMO.

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  6. Players get like Tomkins get poached all the time nowadays by other rival unions. Eddie can’t PERSONALLY prevent them all from being so. If one or two escape the net then Eddie will likewise benefit from people like J.Woodward won’t he? Poaching is not illegal until it’s made so. Its six of one and half a dozen of another or swings and roundabouts!

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      1. Love all you kiwis really DP.
        That was a case of my trying to level the blame game or blame distribution game. Both sides have done it’ we just her very little of the Kiwi part played in it.
        I put it down to the ‘bow down to the AB deference brigade’ who don’t dare say boo to a goose!

          1. I’m sure you know your metaphors DP. There’s definitely an inbuilt slice of deference afforded the AB’s, especially by the media. That’s what I challenge.
            Who do you rate as the better f-back: Mallins or J.Woodward?

            1. Well that’s a generalised statement & opinion. One not shared by Stephen Jones of the S Times with his spurious ‘The rape of the Pacific’ contention which ignored PI immigration as a fact of NZ life & Auckland’s being the world’s biggest Polynesisn city, whilst also remaining silent on England’s & others NH’s absorbtion of SH contingents. However, been there before & denial is hard to shift due to admission of d stds. Getting back to yr point tough about Malins & Woodward, I don’t know the former enough to give an opinion. Others prefer Furbank, whom I also don’t know. Leon reckons JW’s age of 29 is against him. However, whilst an eye ought to be kept on the future, the here & now also needs simultaneous addressing. Hence I’d go for JW, to be rotated with Watson. Daly to 13. Whilst the future demands consideration, who knows how much injury, attrition & form may affect these players? Already mentioned JW’s intent (skills & vision) & the 6N’s immediacy to be taken into account. Over the next 2 seasons, if age catches up with JW, he could be fazed out, with say, the aforementioned Furbank, being weaned in by then. Don’t reckon on this happening of course. EJ’s thinking’s too intransigent, but he may prove me wrong on Monday. We’ll see.

              1. Agreed. Think we’ve done the PI issue! Malins isn’t a dedicated 15 (also a 10) so i’d agree with JW who is an out and out 15.

    1. No one is saying it’s illegal. It’s just frustrating given Tompkins England honors at U18, U20s and his form this season that he wasn’t given a chance at internationals.
      I don’t personally think Woodward is the key, Watson has been in good form when he’s played so I would stick with him until Malins or Furnbank get a shot.

  7. We all seem to be EJ will pick Faz somewhere no matter what. If Faz wasn’t around for the 6N I wonder what the line up would be?

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