Injuries increase pressure on England and Jones

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    18 Oct 2018     Getty Images

The Times featured interviews with its rugby writers on the situation facing the red rose union.

Rugby editor Owen Slot said when asked if Jones was the right man to lead England to the World Cup next year that if the clock could be rewound to the start of 2016 he would have preferred someone else was appointed but he questioned dumping Jones now, especially with no alternative in sight.

"I don't have much faith that this is going to turn out well, but England are best served giving Jones the chance to put this right than going into emergency mode and starting from scratch," he said.

Writer Alex Lowe said: "This autumn will be critical. Jones is working to transform England's fortunes by bringing in new coaches in the hope that fresh voices and different ideas can spark an uplift in form.

"There was some evidence of a recovery in South Africa. Jones deserves the chance to prove he can turn things around – do not forget he won a grand slam and a Six Nations title in his first two seasons – but if there is no evidence of improvement this autumn then the RFU will be under pressure to act," he said.

Former international, and now writer, Stuart Barnes said England's best hope of getting around the situation, and especially the absence of Billy Vunipola, would be to develop an alternative style of play, a faster tempo game, designed for the last 20 minutes.

One of the alternatives to Vunipola that has been suggested is former Hurricanes captain Brad Shields. He made his debut for England on their June tour of South Africa.

There is also debate over first five-eighths Danny Cipriani and whether he should be in the side. That could depend on whether Jones retains Owen Farrell at second five-eighths with George Ford inside, which could see Cipriani as an impact player from the bench.

Adding to the pressure on Jones has been the absence of two of his assistant coaches, attack coach Australian Scott Wisemantel and new assistant and former All Blacks coach John Mitchell, from games in recent weeks. Mitchell is still based in South Africa.

In spite of the issues, the panel of writers felt England were still capable of winning three of their four Tests in November. They meet Japan and Australia and all expected wins in those games, and most felt the unavailability of players for South Africa would make that Test winnable but they all felt they would struggle to beat the All Blacks.