England’s Jonathan Joseph scores in the 2015 Six Nations match against Scotland. This year he is likely to start in the centre with Owen Farrell after Eddie Jones left out Elliot Daly. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP
Eddie Jones has resisted the temptation to blood the in-form duo of Elliot Daly and Maro Itoje but has included three uncapped players in his 23-man squad for England’s opening fixture of the Six Nations championship. Northampton’s 20-year-old tighthead prop Paul Hill, the inexperienced Harlequins back-row Jack Clifford and the Bath centre Ollie Devoto are all set to feature against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday week.
All three newcomers are likely to start on the bench, with Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph the probable centre pairing and James Haskell in line to start in the back row alongside Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola. For the moment Itoje, Daly, Josh Beaumont, Matt Kvesic and Marland Yarde are surplus to requirements as Jones seeks a winning start to his tenure.
With relatively little training time before the Calcutta Cup encounter it was always probable Jones would retain the nucleus of the team who bowed out of the World Cup. Daly and Itoje, nevertheless, would have hoped to have performed well enough in their clubs’ recent European games to have made the matchday squad, who will receive some breakdown tuition on Wednesday from the former Wallaby flanker George Smith while Jones and his captain, Dylan Hartley, attend the Six Nations launch in London.
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The players have already been given a taste of Jones’s methods, having been put through three separate sessions on Tuesday starting at 8.30am at a rain-lashed Bagshot. “It started with a bang, as we might have expected, ” Haskell said. “There was lots of attention to detail and some different methods. It was exciting. Eddie is a very straight-talking, honest guy. He likes a bit of banter and has shot me down a couple of times already. He has demanded high standards and the understanding that winning is the most important factor in everything we do.