Call to omit imports from England squad
No room for Kiwi Brad Shields in an England Six Nations pack that needs to be ‘‘the full English — bangers and mashers, with the opposition on toast’’.
That’s the view of controversial rugby critic Stephen Jones who has urged coach Eddie Jones to be bold in a fresh squad to be selected on Friday (NZT).
He didn’t mention Shields by name but the inference was there as he questioned the efficiency of the recent England teams ‘‘partly because of injury, partly because of the lack of forward power and leadership, and partly because of what are seen as Eddie-isms.
‘‘These include the selection of red-raw tyros; of those who have come, say, 12,000 miles to be with us so we’d better choose them.’’
That can only be seen as a taunt at the selection of Shields, who coach Jones rushed into the English set-up without even playing a game in the English Premiership last year. Shields was plucked from Super Rugby with the Hurricanes to make his England debut against the Springboks in South Africa last June and has gone on to play five tests to press his claims for World Cup duties later this year.
But there is a call for a fresh rethink as the World Cup looms and England desperate for some Six Nations success after last year’s horror tournament where they slipped to fifth in the defence of their title.
‘‘With time flying, Jones should forget that small regiment he has labelled ‘apprentices’, those he has eased into the top squad, where they have generally been found wanting,’’ wrote Stephen Jones believing the English Premiership had offered worthy alternatives.
‘‘This England squad needs to be more brutal in the scrums and contact areas and driving mauls, and in the mind. The England pack needs to be the full English — bangers and mashers, with the opposition on toast.’’
Stephen Jones opted for a loose forward makeup of: Maro Itoje (Saracens), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Mark Wilson (Newcastle), Don Armand (Exeter), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), and Ben Morgan (Gloucester).
‘‘It will be disappointing if Jones sticks with the same old names, the same shapes, and the strategies that have come up short — and shorter still as time has gone by. This is a chance to be big and bold. If he misses that chance, England will be scrabbling in ungainly fashion all the way to Tokyo.’’