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England boss Eddie Jones' 'eyes pretty open' to identifying new talent in July Tests

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Published in Rugby
Thursday, 10 June 2021 08:47

Eddie Jones has compared his latest squad selection to playing a game of roulette as he looks to unearth some new stars for the future.

Jones says his "eyes are pretty open" over which of the new faces might become long-term fixtures in the side.

"Who comes through we are not sure," he told BBC Sport.

"It might be one of the most unlikely players who comes through.

"It's like you're at the roulette table. You are not sure who to bet on so you throw a spread of money on and one comes up, and you are happy with that.

"These kids, who have all shown they have got potential, have an opportunity to take the shirt, put the shirt on, and then if they play really well it is their shirt."

The squad does not include players from Bristol, Exeter, Sale and Harlequins, who are involved in the Premiership semi-finals, or the Saracens contingent who compete in the Championship play-off final over the next two weekends.

The 12 English players selected for the British and Irish Lions are also not involved.

In 2017, while the Lions toured New Zealand, Jones took a host of uncapped players on the tour of Argentina, with the likes of Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Mark Wilson playing in the World Cup final just over two years later.

"At any stage, at any tournament, if you can get three or four players that add to your team in a sustainable and significant way then you are doing well," Jones added.

Jones also used the example of the Curry twins to explain how hard it is to predict which player might come through and thrive at the top level.

While Tom Curry has become one of the foremost forwards in world rugby, his brother and Sale Sharks team-mate Ben has yet to be capped by his country.

"It's so hard to tell," Jones said.

"On the last Argentina tour we picked Ben Curry ahead of Tom Curry for the first Test, and then Ben unfortunately injured his ankle and didn't play on tour.

"At that stage we had Ben earmarked as the number one number seven [open-side flanker]. As history showed Tom played in that first Test, was absolutely brilliant, and hasn't looked back.

"So we don't know where these players will go, it's how quickly they adapt and when they get their opportunity they take it.

"This is not just a one-off set of games.

"We want to build something here that is going to take us to the future, and that is why it is such an exciting period for us."

Preliminary England squad

Backs: Bassett, Cokanasiga, De Glanville, Dingwall, Hassell-Collins, Kelly, Lawrence, Mitchell, Ojomoh, Parton, Radwan, Robson, Spencer, Steward, Umaga

Forwards: Blamire, Chick, Davison, Ewels, Genge, Heyes, P Hill, T Hill, Ludlam, Ludlow, Martin, Munga, Obano, Reid, Robinson, Singleton, Underhill, Wells, Willis

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