Five issues Eddie Jones must address if he wants to be a success as England coach
Eddie Jones has been appointed as England's new head coach. Here, we examine the five most pressing issues in Jones' in-tray.
A pressing concern is the captaincy and while incumbent Chris Robshaw, tainted by the recent World Cup disaster, is likely to be stripped of the honour, there are few credible alternatives. Dylan Hartley, Mike Brown, Joe Launchbury and Nick Easter are potential replacements if Robshaw is demoted, but Jones is very capable of springing a surprise. Robshaw could even lose his place in the team with Jones stating during the World Cup that he views the Harlequins back row as a six-and-a-half, not a genuine openside.
APPOINTING HIS ASSISTANTS
Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt - assistants under Stuart Lancaster - have been retained by the RFU pending the appointment of a new head coach, who is to decide their fate. It is hard to argue a case for the trio to remain at Twickenham given the dismal nature of England's World Cup exit so expect Jones to bring in his own men, among them Steve Borthwick who excelled with Japan in his tracksuit role. Borthwick is currently employed as Bristol's forwards coach.
AVAILABILITY OF OVERSEAS PLAYERS
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The Rugby Football Union has been steadfast in its refusal to allow the selection of overseas-based players in order to keep English talent in the Aviva Premiership, safeguarding their release for international duty. Unfortunately, England's best poacher is Steffon Armitage, the 2014 European player of the year who has been central to Toulon's success in the Heineken and Champions Cups. Many have called for Armitage to be restored to England's back row, most likely at the expense of Robshaw.
PLACATING THE PREMIERSHIP
The relationship between England and the Premiership clubs is rarely harmonious and what equilibrium there is will not have been helped by comments recently made by Jones in which he questioned the wisdom of players being contracted to clubs rather than the union. He said: "How can you manage your players when they are controlled by other organisations? In my opinion, that is the single greatest task ahead of whoever is going to be appointed as the next England coach." As he must now work closely with the clubs, Jones may be forced to backtrack.
The last title of note secured by England was the 2011 RBS 6 Nations crown, won under the guidance of Martin Johnson. The most recent Grand Slam was achieved in 2003, the same year the Red Rose became world champions. For too long the sport's richest nation, who possess the largest pool of players, have under-achieved and it is Jones' responsibility to reverse the decline. Four successive runners-up finishes in the Six Nations are not good enough.