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Commit to tackling or forget about an England call-up, Eddie Jones warns

Jones says he wants ‘players that are productive with the ball and without the ball’.

England coach Eddie Jone
England coach Eddie Jone

Eddie Jones has reacted to the new Gallagher Premiership season being launched with a glut of tries by warning his England players they will be dropped if they are vulnerable in defence.

The opening three rounds of the competition have seen the whitewash breached 141 times, but Jones sees danger in this attacking success as he plans for an autumn campaign that includes Tests against New Zealand and South Africa.

Backs in particular have been told that they neglect a critical element of the game in pursuit of tries at their peril.

Eddie Jones says backs who can tackle are more important than ever
Eddie Jones says backs who can tackle are more important than ever (Dave Rogers/PA)

“The commitment to make a tackle is important in rugby and the players that we select will have to be committed to make them. Players that don’t won’t get picked,” Jones said.

“You saw how important it was in the Rugby Championship and on the summer tours, especially now that the ball is spread more than two passes only 30 per cent of the time.

“The ability to make an effective tackle not only stops the opposition going forward, but also creates a transition opportunity or a turnover opportunity, so backs who can take the legs away from the opposition are so important.

“We will be looking for players that are productive with the ball and without the ball.”

Manu Tuilagi injured his hamstring against South Africa last November
Manu Tuilagi injured his hamstring against South Africa last November (Adam Davy/PA)

England open their autumn against Argentina November 6 when there is the possibility that Manu Tuilagi could play his first international in a year.

The destructive Sale centre limped off early against South Africa with a hamstring injury incurred while running in a try and he missed the Six Nations with issues to the same muscle before being ruled out of the Australia tour because of a knee problem.

“Manu is in a good spot at the moment. He has been working hard at getting the balance of his preparations right, his body weight is good, his skinfolds are good,” Jones said.

“He probably hasn’t been as effective in the games as he would have liked, but it’s early in the season and there are some good signs at the moment.”

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