Great Britain

Eddie Jones to resist broad changes for England's final Six Nations games

Eddie Jones has ruled out sweeping personnel changes to England’s starting XV for Saturday’s game against title-chasing France at Twickenham but has promised his underperforming side will clean up their act after conceding a total of 41 penalties in their last three games.

Defeats by Scotland and Wales have left England in the bottom half of the Six Nations table with two games left but, while warning that 30% of his current squad may struggle to make the 2023 World Cup, Jones still insists he will not be experimenting unduly for the remaining fixtures against Les Bleus and Ireland.

With restrictions on bringing in players from outside his 28-man squad also set to prevent the return of the fit-again Sam Underhill, Jones is adamant changes will only be made when he feels the time is right. “Just because we’re going through a tough spell at the moment, it’s not a reason to put them in,’ said Jones, who has yet to give a start in this Six Nations to, among others, Ben Earl, Max Malins and Paolo Odogwu.

“When I select a player I want them to be ready to play. We’ll do that in an ordered way. Maybe to others it’s not such an ordered way but we’ve got a plan in place of how we want to keep the team fresh and keep the team moving forward. And results don’t alter that process.”

Jones has also stressed he is not about to alter the team’s leadership structure for the next two matches but has dropped a heavy hint that some players may be on borrowed time. “We are going through a transition period now. We’ve had a fairly settled team from 2019 until now and there needs to be a little bit of a revision to freshen it up. We are going through that at the moment.

“I would say anywhere up to 70% of this squad will go through to the World Cup but it will be dependent on their desire, their form and their fitness. We take all of those things into consideration and then make a final decision.”

The aspect that Jones is very keen to change, however, is England’s discipline, a major issue against Wales in Cardiff. “We worked out that of the 14 penalties we conceded, five were avoidable,” said the head coach. “We asked the players to reflect and then come up with a plan as to how they can avoid them in the future. We can’t sort it out with one stroke of the pen but we’re working through it. We will solve it and we’ll be better in the next game.”

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France’s squad has been boosted by the return to fitness of Romain Ntamack and Virimi Vakatawa, both of whom have yet to feature in this year’s tournament. The wing Gabin Villière, however, will miss the remainder of the championship after suffering a hand injury in Toulon’s 25-21 win over Racing 92 on Saturday.

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