Eddie Jones confirms he will unleash Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell as England’s 10-12 combination this autumn… with head coach also calling up Aussie-qualified Louis Lynagh
- England have met up ahead of their Autumn opener against Tonga on Saturday
- Eddie Jones has decided Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell with play together
- The head coach left George Ford out and wants to see tweaks in his game
- Jones believes England became too ‘conservative’ since the World Cup
Eddie Jones has confirmed that he is set to unleash Marcus Smith and captain Owen Farrell as a new 10-12 combination in his revamped England back line this autumn.
After Sportsmail revealed that the Harlequins playmaking prodigy would start at fly-half alongside the England skipper, Jones has revealed his intention to pick the pair in tandem.
In an appearance on BT Sport, the England head coach was asked about the decision to leave George Ford out of his latest Test squad and outlined his intentions for the creative hub of the team.
George Farrell and Marcus Smith are set to combine at the heart of England’s XV this autumn
Eddie Jones has revealed the two will play together in hope of reversing a ‘conservative’ trend
‘We know George is a good player but we’ve asked him to have a look at a couple of things in his game to make him even better,’ said Jones. ‘I think he is doing that. He is playing well.
‘But we are keen to give Marcus and Owen the opportunity to play at 10 and 12 and see where they can take our game.
‘I think we’ve got to become much more aggressive when we get the ball. Maybe since the World Cup we became a bit conservative in that area and we will keep addressing that.’
England’s squad regathered on Sunday night to step up preparations for their autumn opener against Tonga at Twickenham on Saturday, but Harry Randall is out of the running for that game.
Leicester’s George Ford has been left at home with Jones looking for the fly-half to improve
The Bristol scrum half, who launched his Test career with two summer starts, has a hip injury which means he has been released back to his club. He has been replaced by Northampton’s in-form Alex Mitchell, who joins Ben Youngs and Raffi Quirke as contenders for the No 9 jersey.
Intriguingly, Jones has also opted to expand his squad by calling up Harlequins wing Louis Lynagh — son of Wallaby legend Michael Lynagh.
The addition of the 20-year-old may mean that one of the wings in the squad is struggling for full fitness. But it also comes amid continuing speculation that Australia will seek to pick Lynagh if he is not swiftly capped and ‘captured’ by England.
Jones set the scene for a fascinating team announcement later this week, saying: ‘We’ve got good young players. Freddie Steward, Adam Radwan, Marcus Smith and Harry Randall all made debuts in the summer and they’ve all got the potential to go forward.
Harlequins’ 22-year-old star Smith made his England debut this summer and is a future star
‘We’ve also got three good players competing for No 8 — Alex Dombrandt, Sam Simmonds and Callum Chick. Getting that balance in the back row is going to be important for us.’
Tom Curry is understood to be another candidate to operate at No 8 and Jones offered a ringing endorsement of the Sale back row, saying: ‘The guy who has done remarkably well for England is Tom Curry.
‘He has played six, seven and eight for us and I can really see his game developing to another level.
‘He came in as a very strong defensive player but I think he can really progress his attacking game, similar to what Richie McCaw did. There’s no limit to where his game can go.’
Jones also responded to criticism of his selection policy, adding: ‘Twelve months ago I was being criticised for being too consistent in my selection. Now I’m being criticised for not being consistent in my selection. Which one do you want?’
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