England coach Eddie Jones keeps faith with Tom Curry at No8 and rest of his squad which lost Six Nations match in France

Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones
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Eddie Jones will persist with Tom Curry’s conversion to number eight for England’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Scotland in the belief he is the long-term answer in the position.

Jones has once again opted against selecting a specialist eight in an unchanged 34-man training squad, denying the in-form Alex Dombrandt or Fijian-born powerhouse Nathan Hughes the chance to press their claims.

With Billy Vunipola ruled out of the entire Six Nations by a broken arm, Curry was shifted across the back row for Sunday’s comprehensive 24-17 defeat by France but made little impact.

The 21-year-old was a star of last autumn’s World Cup but on Sunday’s evidence he is a more influential player at blindside or openside flanker.

The absence of a specialist for the trip to Murrayfield points to Curry continuing in his new role and head coach Jones is convinced he will eventually flourish.

“I think Tom can be a (All Black) Rodney So’oialo-type player – a mobile, hard-running eight who has ball skills,” Jones said. “We can’t find another Billy so we won’t go down that track. Instead we’ll find a different sort of player.

“We want this team to be a great team. To do this we need to have the ambition to make players great players.

“Tom is one of those players we feel can be an absolutely outstanding number eight, but it will take time.

“I am prepared to accept some mistakes for him to learn and become a better eight. We don’t have a one-game selection policy.

“Just look at players like Ellis Genge and how long it has taken him to be a Test player - four years.

“They have to go through this apprenticeship and sometimes they go through some pain at the start of it.”

Vunipola was sorely missed at the Stade de France, especially during lengthy spells when England’s forwards pounded the whitewash but lacked the brute strength to make the final breakthrough.

“That sort of attack has become a power game and we weren’t good in that area,” Jones said.

“In the World Cup final we weren’t good in that area and we weren’t good there against France. It’s an area we need to improve in.

“We need to find a way to get some more power because you’ve got to carry through bodies. We’ve got to find a way to have more variety.”

Another urgent task heading to the Scottish capital is restoring the confidence of George Furbank, the 23-year-old Northampton Saint who endured an error-ridden international debut in Paris.

Jones said: “Coaching is about helping players get better. What do you think I’m going to do? Say: ‘George you’re absolute rubbish get out of here, go back to Northampton, work in the shoe factory?’

“What am I going to say to him? Of course I’m going to help him become a better player, and I thought he was good against France.”

George Ford admits England can ill afford to lose Manu Tuilagi for any of their remaining games as a groin problem threatens his ongoing involvement.

“It was obviously disappointing for Manu. He’s a big player for us and it goes without saying what he brings to our game,” Ford said.

“Most importantly I hope he’s all right and that his injury isn’t too bad. I’m not too sure what it is specifically, but I’m sure he will do his best to get back out there.”

Ford refuses to excuse the dire nature of the first half of an error-ridden defeat that places England on the fringe of the title race after just one round.

Their downfall against a resurgent France had echoes of last autumn’s World Cup final, when South Africa were equally dominant, and exposes Jones’ challenge to become the greatest team the sport has seen as a folly.

“The first-half was disappointing. Not good enough,” said Ford after England had gone 24-0 down before fighting back through two Jonny May tries.

“Our intent and attitude were all right but when France are playing well and you let them into the game, that’s what can happen.

“The disappointing thing is that we didn’t manage to nip it in the bud earlier, but we got ourselves together at half-time and it was a lot better in the second half.

“At half-time we talked about being more decisive, more committed in our decision-making and everyone being on the same page, especially when we were kicking the ball out of our own half.

“We felt that if we could do that then opportunities would be there and that’s how it materialised.

“I’m proud of the way the boys came back, but we need to be better than we were in the first half.

“At 24-0 down we knew we needed to stick to the plan if we were to have any chance of getting back into the game at all.

“We couldn’t go chucking the ball around willy-nilly to try to score tries - the conditions meant we had to play a certain way, which meant kicking the ball and going from set-piece to set-piece.”

England name their team to face Scotland on Thursday, with Mako Vunipola in contention to start after being rested for the opening weekend.