Lewis Moody: Five players Eddie Jones should pick for England
Last Updated: 03/12/15 5:57pm
Lewis Moody has identified five players Eddie Jones should keep an eye on for England selection.
Jones will be eager to usher in a new era for the Twickenham faithful following England's early exit from the World Cup, but will that mean plenty of changes to the squad?
Moody is excited about the prospect of an England team less interested in size and more interested in talent and creativity.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the former England captain selects five players he would like to see given a chance to either start or build on their international careers.
Brendon O'Connor, back row, Leicester Tigers
I remember chatting to a couple of the Leicester guys who were really excited about getting him over, especially when they let Julian Salvi go. I thought that was a strange decision because Salvi had been absolutely wonderful for Leicester.
But Brendon O'Connor seems to fit the bill very nicely for exactly what Leicester want in terms of a play-making back row.
They want someone who is a ball carrier and offloader but more importantly can contest those breakdown areas.
Certainly in the two games I've seen him play he's impressed me and I believe he's definitely worthy of inclusion in that wider EPS squad.
Kyle Eastmond, centre, Bath
You want competition for places in order for a team to be successful and I think England took the safe option in the World Cup when it came to selections.
For me, the reason George Ford went so well at Bath is because he had someone like Eastmond, who is a second distributor, outside him.
He's such a dangerous prospect. He's got the footwork of Jason Robinson, he's a strong unit, he's got the ability to offload and break the line.
He was an exciting addition that England missed out on because they had a focus on size over everything else.
When Eastmond has played for England he's played well, and he's been unlucky not to go further.
Maro Itoje, second row, Saracens
I'm not convinced where his position is at the moment between No 6 and second row, but he's one of those players who has been putting his hand up and deserves an opportunity.
People have been saying that we don't have strength in depth or that we haven't got enough exciting players but I think we do. It's just a case of giving them a chance at international level and seeing whether they can deal with what that brings.
Itoje would be a good example of that; he's clearly a tenacious character and a good leader. He was given the captaincy at Saracens from a young age and led England at Under 20s.
It's just finding out where his natural fit is. I think he needs to nail down one position but it will be interesting to see him play for sure.
Nathan Hughes, No. 8, Wasps
Nathan Hughes has been going pretty well again this year and has been an exciting addition to Wasps since joining in 2013.
Fijian-born but eligible for England in 2016, I think he's done well under the tutelage of James Haskell.
Haskell has matured into his rugby and given a guiding arm to a young man like Hughes, who has come into the side and is performing very well.
He's one of three very exciting forwards along with O'Connor and Itoje.
Henry Slade, centre/fly-half, Exeter Chiefs
Slade is one of those players who has a Will Greewood-esque approach to rugby, it all seems to come very naturally to him.
He's got a very relaxed demeanour about him, which is nice - he doesn't panic. He's got a wonderful skill set and a good temperament. He's an exciting player to watch and he needs to be up there.
The difficulty for him is that he's come around at a time along with George Ford, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph and a number of other exciting players, but I definitely think there is a position for Slade.
Whether that's Joseph and Slade working together with Ford, or Slade putting pressure on Ford. Will we see Farrell continue in the 10 position?
Slade throws up a number of questions and I'm sure with the way Eddie Jones approaches the game we will see the best brought out in those players.
Lewis Moody is a NatWest RugbyForce 2016 ambassador, encouraging rugby clubs to enter for the opportunity to attend free workshops, receive financial support and pitch maintenance sessions from the RFU's head groundsman Keith Kent. Register at www.englandrugby.com/natwestrugbyforce