Will Greenwood says Eddie Jones must rest British & Irish Lions players for South Africa tour
Last Updated: 19/03/18 6:17pm
Will Greenwood believes Eddie Jones must rest his British & Irish Lions players this summer and not take them on tour to South Africa.
England finished their Six Nations campaign with three consecutive defeats and next on the international agenda, after a meeting with the Barbarians, is a three-Test tour against the Springboks in June, which is live on Sky Sports.
Greenwood, speaking to Sky Sports News, believes strongly England's head coach must travel on tour without key senior players in order to provide them with appropriate downtime, after what will have been a prolonged period of rugby.
"I genuinely think that the most important thing that Eddie Jones can do and, number one on his to-do list, is to get his British & Irish Lions players, the likes of Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell, to the beach this summer," Greenwood said.
"They're going to head back to Saracens now, who have got to go to Dublin and play Leinster in a European Cup quarter-final, and then these guys have got to go to battle again and try and win the Premiership.
"So, come the back end of May when the club competitions are over, the best thing that he can do is to send some of his senior players, who have that leadership and who Jones knows that he can rely on under pressure, to the beach to spend time with their families."
Alongside Itoje and Farrell, their Saracens' team-mates Mako Vunipola and Jamie George, would be prime candidates for a summer off.
Bath Rugby's Anthony Watson may well miss the tour due to injury as Jones deemed it to be "not good" after the 24-year-old left the field against Ireland and Courtney Lawes' season is already over following an operation on his knee.
England face South Africa on three successive weekends, starting with the opening Test in Johannesburg on June 9, and Greenwood wants to see some other faces making waves in the summer.
"He [Eddie Jones] can then introduce some young rock stars into the fray in South Africa, not be afraid of losing in South Africa and allowing the younger brethren to come through and take on that leadership mantle.
"They could potentially win a series in South Africa and then go again with a full squad once they come back together in the autumn."
Focusing on the Six Nations campaign, Greenwood believes fatigue was a factor that underpinned England's inability to challenge for this season's title.
"You can clearly see a lot of those England players, slowly but surely, getting closer and closer to the empty sign on the petrol gauge," said the World Cup winner.
"No lack of effort [was shown from England's players]. But, the organisation and the structure and the freshness that's afforded to some of those fantastic Irish players, who come back from Lions tours and are heavily rested by their Provinces, meant they can maintain their international pedigree throughout the season.
"Clearly some [English] players have under-performed, at times others have tried to force it a little bit, but at the heart of it, and underpinning most of it, has been a fatigue of the players. Both the fixture list but also Eddie Jones must look closely at his training methods to understand if they are appropriate."
"I've been in and I've been fortunate enough to watch with a lot of the media. They don't do long sessions, I think that it has been blown out of proportion, in terms of saying that they've been out on the pitch all day for hours and running them to absolute exhaustion.
"Yes, it's high intensity but all of these little things add up and mean that when England needed to put their foot down and accelerate and get themselves back into games, which they have done for the previous two years, they just found nothing there."
Elsewhere in the English game, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, England Women finished their Six Nations Championship with a five-try victory over Ireland.
Simon Middleton's side finished the tournament as the top-try scorers with 29, five more than France, but their late 18-17 loss at the Stade des Alpes meant that the title went to Les Bleues.
Despite missing out on Championship silverware, Greenwood believes the team are in a strong position personnel wise, including Sarah Bern developing into a 'tighthead prop of real international class' and Danielle Waterman 'smashing records'.
Waterman recorded her 47th try for her country in their final game and as a result became the Red Roses' all-time leading try scorer.
The U20s were also pipped to the title by France, however, once again the talent showcased in the competition has turned heads with Greenwood highlighting flanker Ben Earl, scrum-half Ben White and winger Gabriel Ibitoye - who was invited to train with the senior squad during Six Nations - as key individuals to watch.
"There's some real talent coming through that might get a run out on the South Africa tour," Greenwood said before concluding about the state of English rugby as a whole.
"Of course the main focus this weekend has been on the senior men, a disappointing performance, but if you look across the board with what the RFU are doing to develop rugby in the men's, women's and junior age groups then England are doing wonderfully well.
"So we mustn't shed too many tears, in the meantime, we must applaud Ireland, we must lick our wounds, come back stronger in South Africa and we must keep developing the game. Rugby in England is in rude health, we're just having a blip at senior men's level."