Ollie Phillips: Jones’s selection once again proves his genius

Eddie Jones’s matchday squad for Saturday’s showdown with Argentina again reflects the genius of what the Australian has managed to pull off in the two years since his appointment as England head coach.

If England were coming up against a really dominant and physical side that was going to try and batter their midfield, he could play Owen Farrell at No10 and Ben Te’o and Manu Tuilagi as the centres. That would give the team a whole different complexion.

As it is, Jones has named one of the most attacking midfields England have ever fielded against the Pumas with George Ford at fly-half, Exeter’s Henry Slade at inside centre and Jonathan Joseph of Bath outside of him.

This is the beauty of what Jones has carefully crafted in recent years. It has not always been through choice, injuries have played their part, but he has got a lot of top quality players with Test experience who are all champing at the bit to play for England.

I’m so excited to see England’s midfield operating in tandem and there is certainly the sense of these three being able to produce the impossible. With ball in hand, they are magical and mesmeric when they want to be.

There could be some frailties in defence but in an attacking sense it’s mouthwatering. Ford, for instance, is arguably one of the best playmakers to ever pull on an England jersey and is certainly among the finest in international rugby at the moment.

He and Slade, who looks dangerous every time he represents England, have sublime right and left-foot combinations. Slade also has phenomenal game-awareness, while his want, desire and passion to attack is unrivalled.

British and Irish Lion Joseph, meanwhile, with his movement and footwork, can conjure a try out of nowhere. We’ve seen that from the 26-year-old so many times in the Premiership and for England.

It will only be Slade’s eighth cap for England but that is something else which Jones has done better than any other coach I have ever seen. He hasn’t just created competition for places but a real desire and appetite to play.

It’s such a motivating factor for players if you turn up and feel there is a genuine opportunity to be selected, compared to knowing you will just be holding a tackle bag and sitting on the bench.

Jones has been a master at that and we can see the results. This is such an adventurous England side, but they could field an equally thrilling team from all the players currently out injured or not selected.

Someone else I cannot wait to see play is Sam Underhill, who I believe will own the No7 shirt for years. The 21-year-old is not the finished article yet but is a force to be reckoned with. He and Chris Robshaw are going to be all over their opponents like a pack of dogs.


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