Was Eddie Jones paying attention

Italy V England | Extended Highlights | 2022 Guinness Six Nations

for the future.

For the the first 55 minutes of England’s shutout of Italy in the second round of Six Nations games Eddie Jones saw what he should have done in the first game but then he couldn’t help himself.

I was amazed when Jones announced his side to face Italy. After the loss to the Jocks he was told, repeatedly, from various quarters that a quicker, better, scrum half was required but Jones is like ARSEne Wenger, the more he’s told to do something the more he pushes back.

I fully expected Youngs to be down as the number 9. Jones saying he’s his man and giving him the chance to prove it… while also proving the doubters correct.

But no, the younger Harry Randall was there and for those 55 minutes showed why he should be there and why he should have been in Edinburgh the week before. Jones may bang on about the pitch being fast and dry and that suits his game but as he showed his speed to and from the breakdown suits England and it would have suited them in the wet.

Oh what a difference it made not having Youngs slow to the breakdown, slow at the breakdown, slow away from the breakdown. Oh, how good to have a scrum half getting straight in there, getting the ball out, not waiting until the forwards were counter rucked. And when he got it out he passed it, not aimlessly box-kicking possession away, and he didn’t dither with the pass, so not allowing the defence to get on the receiver and he passed it to a player so that the receiver didn’t have to stop or jump and catch a hospital pass.

For 55 minutes it helped England, especially Marcus Smith, rack up some points.

But Jones just couldn’t help himself. Just like last week, when a by the numbers change saw Smith withdrawn for one of Jones’s useless pets, so a by the numbers saw his main pet introduced.

Why did Jones feel the need to bring Youngs on for his record equalling 114th cap?

Was it the same as with Smith last week, that he didn’t like seeing someone take the limelight. Randall had such a good game, he would have been getting all the plaudits and we know Eddie doesn’t go for that.

Also if Randall had stayed on, played well, England racked up more than the one try they scored when Youngs came on then it would be harder for him to drop the youngster for the next game. Whereas now, even with his useless 25 minute display you just feel he’ll return to Youngs and the dithering.

You know he watched Youngs orchestrate an England maul to the halfway line and then launch the ineptest of inept box kicks, and thought… “yes, he’s my man”.

It was such a joy to watch Randall and Smith and the link up, fast play they brought, it was so awful when Youngs and then Ford came on. Don’t do it Eddie…

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