England head coach Eddie Jones is currently preparing a relatively inexperienced squad for the summer tour of Argentina and with 16 of his regulars away on Lions duty or unavailable, he is on the lookout for new leaders in his squad.
With 15 uncapped players in the 31-man squad, Jones will be heavily reliant on the likes of Dylan Hartley and Joe Launchbury to provide the experience and leadership for his experimental squad but with both likely on Warren Gatland’s call-up list for the Lions, the England boss has been seeking new leaders to step up.
The Australian, who enjoyed an incredible 18-game unbeaten run before losing to Ireland on March 18, has always been blunt, direct and, at times, abrasive in his approach to coaching but it is a manner that has served him well since taking over from Stuart Lancaster in late 2015.
Now, as reported by the Daily Mail, Jones has been at it again and has walked out of a squad meeting on Monday, leaving his players to their own devices.
Apparently, it was all part of the Jones masterplan to find out who is willing to step up and become a leader within his new group of players.
“They are the sort of things we are doing to constantly develop the leadership of the players, to develop their thinking about the game, develop more responsibility about being active.
“Be a participant, don’t be a recipient. Professional sport to a large extent is educating players to be a recipient and it’s our great belief that to be a World Cup winning team you need to be a participant.”
With so many England starters absent this summer, there is a huge opportunity for emerging England talent to make their mark on the squad and muscle their way into contention for the 2019 World Cup preparations.
“There might be some different players but this is still England, and we want the players to be responsible, self-driven, self-reliant
“We have got to trust the players and allow them to fail – there is nothing wrong with failing.
“We have got quite a unique demographic here so there are opportunities here for people to jump from being a back-bencher to being Prime Minister.”
Walking out on his experienced squad must surely have raised a few eyebrows among those less familiar with his style of coaching. However, you might well imagine that it gave those with an inkling to lead the platform upon which to do just that.
Love him or loathe him, Eddie Jones has proven himself to be a tactical genius when it comes to England. He tapped into the psyche of the national side following their disastrous 2015 World Cup and empowered them to play to their strengths, with unapologetic confidence.
The results have been profound. One loss in 19 games and hot on the heels of New Zealand for the top ranking in world rugby is evidence that the Jones method is working for England.
With two summer Tests against the robust and ever-improving Argentina to come this month, it will be interesting to see if his new charges can continue England’s awesome run of form.
Argentina welcome England for their first Test on Saturday at 8:15 GMT.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
Check out the latest podcast, featuring John Hayes talking about the Lions and playing in New Zealand
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