Sir Clive Woodward believes that Steve Borthwick’s England Six Nations squad “promises a stark contrast to the Eddie Jones era”.
Borthwick named his 36-man group for the upcoming Six Nations, and former head coach Woodward has hailed the new boss for injecting new faces and pace in his squad.
Form and pace
“Jones would never have named the likes of Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Earl for the Six Nations, as Borthwick did. Under the Australian, England became far too slow from one to 15,” Woodward claimed in his latest Daily Mail column.
“To win a World Cup, England can’t rely on brute power alone. They are not South Africa. There must be a speed and dynamism to the players who are selected.”
Woodward believes that England’s approach and game-plan needs a radical change and added that he was Jones’ ‘No 1 fan’ up until the 2019 Rugby World Cup final but that the team and Jones never recovered from the defeat.
Zoning in on the players selected, Woodward added that Borthwick selected his team based on Premiership form and their ability to play at pace. He also backed Borthwick’s decision to name Owen Farrell as captain and to recall Dan Cole.
“Hassell-Collins, Earl and Ben Curry have earned selection on the back of their domestic exploits and that is how it should be. Dan Cole is back at the age of 35 after playing very well for Leicester Tigers. I don’t mind that at all. It shows age is no barrier and that form is rewarded,” Woodward wrote.
“Borthwick’s decision to make Owen Farrell captain is the right one and I would absolutely have him starting at No 10 during the Six Nations. He must begin the Scotland game there.
“The best I saw England play under Jones was when Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade filled the 10, 12 and 13 shirts respectively. Hopefully, we can see that trio reunited in midfield.”
Turning his attention back to Jones, Woodward wrote that Australia’s decision to appoint the former England coach made him smile.
“Australia have made a seriously big call by going back to Jones. The decision made me smile because Jones’ return to the international arena does add extra spice to what is already a huge World Cup year,” he continued.
“He will be a man on a mission. His last three years with England have taken a lot of the aura away from him but if I was in charge of Australian rugby, I’d have made exactly the same call.
“Like many others, I have been very critical of Jones as England were going backwards and fast in every aspect of the game, but he is excellent at getting a team into shape in double-quick time.
“There is now the mouth-watering prospect of Jones possibly coaching against Borthwick’s England at the World Cup. England were right to get rid of Jones, but if he comes back to haunt them then big questions will still be asked of the RFU and chief executive Bill Sweeney. There will be finger-pointing if England get knocked out of the tournament by Jones’ Australia.”
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England kick their Six Nations off with two home Tests, the first against Scotland on February 4; they then host Italy eight days later.