England’s elite playing squad could see some changes next season.
Although the 2015/16 season has only just come to an end, Eddie Jones is already planning to for the new campaign, hinting at four new additions to England’s Elite Playing squad.
The backrow has become a particular area of concern for Jones, following confirmation of the news that James Haskell would miss the autumn internationals after sustaining a foot injury during England’s whitewash over Australia last month.
Although Teimana Harrison and Jack Clifford have both been seen action under Jones, Sam Underhill seems to have re-entered the equation. According to The Telegraph, there is a sense of urgency to cap the Ospreys openside, as he will complete his three year period of residency at the end of next season.
Nevertheless, Premiership clubs may yet block any attempts to include Underhill, with Jones confirming that no agreement has yet been reached between the RFU and the clubs as to invoking the ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause.
As expected, Nathan Hughes will be included in the EPS, but not as a number eight. Indeed, Jones sees the Fijian’s future at blindside flanker, creating further competition in the backrow.
I’ll probably look at him more as a six than an eight, but certainly he’s a guy that’s got something that you can coach.
His ball-carrying is something that you can’t coach, which gives him a head start and if he can pick up in his other areas then he is going to be a pretty handy player.
The Guardian have also claimed that two of England’s triumphant under 20s side are also set to be fast tracked into the EPS, but may not see game time.
While Jones only made reference to Harry Mallinder, he did mention one attribute the Northampton playmaker needed to add to his game.
He’s definitely not a 10. He’s probably a 12, but he is going to have to get a bit more robustness about him. He’s only a young lad, and I’m sure he can do that.
However, although Jones has already drafted 45 man EPS, he will not unveil it until October.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena