Thursday 18th October 2018
Myles McDevitt – UCFB Multimedia Sports Journalism Student 2018
2018 started off with so much promise for England given that they had won the previous two Six Nations Championships and had only lost one game since Eddie Jones took over.
Despite wins against Italy and Wales in the Six Nations, it went downhill for England from there on, with successive losses to Scotland, France, Ireland and South Africa twice. They even lost to a Barbarians outfit that had a certain Chris Ashton in their ranks.
England did manage to register a win in South Africa in a well-earned victory that could only build confidence going into the Autumn. However, in the months that followed, there has been controversy off the pitch in the shape of Danny Cipriani who is now dropped from the side having impressed with his performances in South Africa and his new club Gloucester.
Many people feel that Jones decision to drop Cipriani from the squad is for his off-field antics in Jersey. Jones may be enforcing discipline into the squad but the Premiership Player of the month for September is nowhere to be seen in the side and that is a huge shame to many.
There have also been problems for Jones as the injury count rises with Chris Robshaw, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, the Vunipola brothers and Joe Launchbury unable to play in the Autumn series.
Nathan Hughes was the most likely candidate to replace Billy Vunipola in the back row but he is now cited due to punching an opponent. In steps Ben Morgan, who was an integral part of the Stuart Lancaster reign, he now finds himself in the side again where he will no doubt impress.
Ashton is also back in the side with his last England performance in 2014. He will be eager to terrorise defences once again and this is surely his last big chance to put everything right.
England start their campaign with South Africa and then face New Zealand in what surely must be the most hyped game of the Autumn Internationals. Jones’s former employers Japan and Australia will round off a stellar Autumn series.
Victory in two or three of the games will restore confidence going into World Cup year but if England go back to how they were in the Six Nations, there will be headaches around Twickenham that they aren’t good enough to win the World Cup.