Long forgotten genius Eddie Jones plan comes true to give England World Cup hope
The entire rugby world laughed at Eddie Jones in 2019 when he said ahead of the Six Nations that winger Jack Nowell could also play as an openside flanker.
Nothing came of those comments, so everyone seemed to forget about them – although Nowell did have a cameo in the scrum against Ireland in 2022 following Charlie Ewel’s red card.
“He is going to be the new breed of player,” Jones said in 2019.
“The game has changed. The game used to be 80 minutes, now it is 100 minutes. The next change is you will have players who can play backs and forwards. Do you remember (former Australia coach) Rod Macqueen? He used to talk about it. It is going to happen. The game is going towards it.”
“Nowell is definitely an option at seven. We haven’t tried him out but he is definitely an option. Because he has great ball carrying, great tackling skill; he puts his head over the ball, he’s a tough little bloke. He’s a great option. He can play wing, 13, 15, seven for us.”
A lot has happened since then- Nowell had a long absence from the England team only to return again, Jones was sacked last year and replaced by Steve Borthwick and the Exeter Chiefs star missed out on the Six Nations. But the dream of the 30-year-old wearing the No7 shirt never died.
The 2017 British & Irish Lion revived those plans at the weekend against the Stormers in the Heineken Champions Cup, where he showed how lethal his pick-and-go game is. Nowell scored the second try in Exeter’s 42-17 win at Sandy Park by sniping around the breakdown and bursting through three tackles on his way to the line. Somewhere, Jones would have been watching with an enormous grin on his face.
After England’s Six Nations showing, Borthwick will know that he will have to fly in the face of tradition and throw caution to the wind at the World Cup if England are going to stand any chance. Jack Nowell could be the answer. In truth, the only question that would be the answer to is ‘What is a truly ridiculous idea?’ But still, it was a good try.
Take a look:
Opportunism 🤝 Strength
What a score from @nowellsy15 who spots an opportunity, breaks one tackle, rides another and stretches for the line!@ExeterChiefs | #HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/c6Wanyo3Ap
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 8, 2023