We take a look at six of the reasons why Eddie Jones’ England team could be on course to claim the Six Nations title in 2016…
1.The coaching shake up
Although the squad selected is much of the same from an England perspective, it is clear that a new approach is already being taken by the new management team. At this stage it is hard to predict exactly what impact this will have on the players, but it’s likely they will all be keen to impress the new coach, and could play above themselves for the first couple of games at least.
2.Continuity in the team
Despite all the changes in the coaching side, the actual squad selection has remained relatively consistent. This means that there aren’t a host of new faces having to bed into a completely new system, instead it is a group of players familiar with one another, who can begin to adapt to a new system which is a much easier transition due to the experience within the squad.
3.The set piece is likely to return as a strength
England’s set piece had a catastrophic meltdown just before the World Cup, however have no doubt this will not be the case under Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick. With Japan they took a group of relatively small forwards and established them as set piece specialists who went toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world and came out on top.
4.Tries shouldn’t be an issue
Over the last 18 months, England have proven that they aren’t reliant on forward dominance to win games, but can actually score tries through the backs. The likes of Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson have been superb going forward and ensure that England have every chance of outscoring opponents during games.
5.Young talent breaking through
We have already seen young stars like Anthony Watson and George Ford breaking through for England over the last 18 months, however England now have the likes of Jack Clifford, Maro Itoje and Elliot Daly waiting in the wings to make an impression. Not only will they be keen to make a mark during the Six Nations, they will also force established stars to up their game.
6.The hiring of specialist coaches
They may not have come on in full time roles, but the inclusion of Jonny Wilkinson and George Smith as part of the coaching set up for this year’s Six Nations shows Eddie Jones has identified potential areas of concerns and addressed them with highly qualified individuals. You only have to look at the improvements Marc del Maso made to Japan’s scrum in the World Cup.