ENGLAND’S head coach Eddie Jones reminded Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje of who is in charge of the side when they protested over being rested for tomorrow’s Test against Argentina.
Jones has overlooked the Saracens pair due to their “exceptional workloads” this season, thereby honouring his pledge to stand down some of his British and Irish Lions following their involvement in the summer tour to New Zealand.
Both players sought to persuade their head coach of their readiness for the autumn opener at Twickenham and Jones notes with approval their response to his decision.
“They hated it, which is a great reaction. They hate it because they want to play every Test,” Jones said.
“They love playing for England, they are proud of playing for England and they want to be part of a winning team.
“Both unhappy. That’s why they are such great players because they are so competitive.
“At the end of the day not everyone is on the same level and at the end of the day they have got to understand I run the team.
“I make the decisions and I make those decisions in the best interests of the team and for the individual.
“We had to convince them, not just me, but the rest of the staff, that it is in their best interests for this period of time.
“Then for next week we will try to work out what is in their best interests.”
Farrell and Itoje played throughout the Test series against the All Blacks and have also seen regular action for Saracens since their return.
All eight of England’s remaining Lions are present for the visit of the Pumas and it was intuition that told Jones who needed be withdrawn, although Farrell and Itoje will surely return against Australia tomorrow week.
“I was telling the players that I should be the data analyst,” Jones said. “I’ve got wellness stats, urine stats, psychological stats, reload, reform stats, GPS stats.
“It’s a bit like being a horse-trainer. You get all this information, you see all these things ,but you’ve got to look at the person and see what they are ready to do.
“I can’t explain it because it comes down to my gut feel for what they need. I don’t think I’ve ever been bad at it – I think I’ve always been a reasonable selector, but I’ve got better with age.
“I probably listen more to people now than I did when I was young. When you’re young you think you know everything and when you’re old you discover that you don’t know too much.”
Each of the Lions was appraised individually by Jones, who explains why another high workload player in Mako Vunipola has not joined Farrell and Itoje on the sidelines.
“One thing I do know is that he loves playing rugby and he hates training, so that is a pretty simple equation for me,” Jones said.
Henry Slade replaces Farrell at inside centre while Sam Underhill has been given the nod at openside.
Argentina have lost all but one of their nine Tests this year, dispatching only Georgia in June, and have been defeated in all three meetings with Jones’s men – who they will also have to face in the pool phase of the 2019 World Cup.
But their coach Daniel Hourcade, commenting on his position, said: “You are always under pressure at the top level. The pressure is perhaps more on England. They are No 2 in the world, we are No 10. We are playing here, in the last part of our season. I think England have the pressure on top of us.”
England’s team to play Argentina:
M Brown (Harlequins); A Watson (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), H Slade (Exeter), E Daly (Wasps); G Ford (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); M Vunipola (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton), G Kruis (Saracens), C Robshaw (Harlequins), S Underhill (Bath), N Hughes (Wasps). Replacements: J George (Saracens), E Genge (Leicester), H Williams (Exeter), J Launchbury (Wasps), S Simmonds (Exeter), D Care (Harlequins), A Lozowski (Saracens), S Rokoduguni (Bath).