Joe Cokanasiga backed by Eddie Jones to become a '100-Test player'
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 14/03/19 12:39pm
Eddie Jones believes Joe Cokanasiga can become a "100-Test player" for England, despite being dropped for Saturday’s Six Nations game against Scotland.
The 21-year-old Cokanasiga, who was born in Fiji, was man of the match in England's 57-14 win over Italy last week, in what was just his fourth cap.
However, he has been left out of the squad entirely for the visit of the Scots, with Jack Nowell taking his place on the right wing, and Jones has emphasised the need to bring him along slowly.
"We are really pleased with the way he is going but I want him to be a 100-Test player for England," Jones told Sky Sports News.
"Sometimes you have got to push them forward and sometimes you have got to pull them back.
"We picked him to go to Argentina when he had not played a Premiership game, so we have pushed him forward at times. Now is the time to let him cool his heels a little bit.
"There are parts of his game he needs to work on and he will work on that and come back an even better player that can be a potential match-winner for us."
Jones says England took a similar patient approach with Saracens lock Maro Itoje and are now reaping the rewards.
"We were roundly criticised for the way we handled Maro," Jones said. "We played him off the bench for about two or three games and did not allow him to do any media.
"The result we have got out of is a very well-rounded, tough Test rugby player who has now got 27 caps to his name and will get another 75."
Manu Tuilagi clarified his future earlier this week by agreeing a contract extension with Leicester Tigers, despite interest from French side Racing 92.
Moving to the Top 14 would have jeopardised his future with England ahead of the World Cup later this year but Tuilagi no longer has to worry about that.
"He does not show his emotions too much but I am sure he is glad his future is sorted out," Jones said. "He does not have to get on the Eurostar now or learn French."
Tuilagi, who has shown steady improvement throughout the Six Nations, scored two tries in England's win over Italy and Jones expects him to take another step forward against Scotland.
Jones said: "He is getting sharper all the time. For him, it is about his running lines and his timing onto the ball.
"We are seeing improvement game by game and on Saturday I think we will see his best game."
Tuilagi will switch from outside to inside centre against Scotland to make way for the returning Henry Slade, with Ben Te'o dropping to the bench.
"Every week we pick the best 23 for the game and this week the 23 involves Henry and Manu at centre," Jones explained.
"Last week, the best 23 involved Ben and Manu. It is a horses for courses [approach]. Scotland tend to pass the ball a lot and Slade's defensive qualities will suit the game really well."