Eddie Jones is convinced Tom Curry can be England’s long-term solution at number eight after once again overlooking a specialist in the position for the Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland.
England began their Six Nations campaign with an error-strewn 24-17 loss to France in Paris, but head coach Jones opted to name the same squad for Saturday’s trip to Murrayfield.
In-form Harlequins star Alex Dombrandt and Fiji-born Nathan Hughes once again miss out on an opportunity to stake a claim in the absence of powerhouse Billy Vunipola, who will sit out the entire tournament with a broken arm.
Curry was moved from flanker to play number eight and struggled to stamp his authority against Les Bleus, but Jones is set to persevere and backed the Sale Sharks back-rower to adjust quickly.
“I see him as a long-term number eight, so I am prepared to accept some mistakes for him to learn and become a better number eight,” Jones said.
“We don’t have a one-game selection policy. Just look at players like [Ellis] Genge and how long it has taken him to be a Test player – four years. They have to go through this apprenticeship and sometimes they go through some pain at the start of it.
“I think he [Curry] can be a Rodney So’oialo type player: a mobile, hard-running number eight that has ball skills. We can’t find another Billy so we won’t go down that track – we will find a different sort of player.
“We want this team to be a great team. To do this we need to have the ambition to make players great players. Tom is one of those players we feel can be an absolutely outstanding number eight. But it will take time.”
Jonny May scores his 29th try for England to become our fifth highest try scorer of all time pic.twitter.com/fefocL0LK2
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 2, 2020
Jones, though, did admit he wants an injection of power from England – an area where Vunipola excels, especially at the opposition try line.
“That sort of attack has become a power game and we weren’t good in that area,” Jones added.
“In the World Cup final, we weren’t good in that area and we weren’t good there against France. It’s an area we need to improve in.
“We need to find a way to get some more power because you’ve got to carry through bodies. We’ve got to find a way to have more variety.”
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta