England’s adaptability key to World Cup hopes, says Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones hopes “Kamikaze kids” Tom Curry and Sam Underhill come through training unscathed to pair up against Ireland for the first time in the same England back row.

England head coach Eddie Jones. Picture: Adam Davy/PA

Natural openside flankers Curry and Underhill were slated to start together in the same loose-forward unit in England’s first World Cup warm-up match against Wales.

But injuries derailed that plan, and this week both men have had to prove their fitness after further niggles – leaving head coach Jones hoping the duo would not pick up any new problems before tomorrow’s Twickenham clash.

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“They’ve still got to get through another training session,” said Jones.

England's Owen Farrell. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

“They are like the Kamikaze kids those two. Playing two guys who are pretty good at the breakdown might give us an advantage in that area.”

George Ford and Owen Farrell will start a Test together for the first time in 14 months against Ireland, with Jones keen to explore attacking variety.

Ford continues at fly-half following the 13-6 loss in Wales, with captain Farrell starting at inside centre, alongside Manu Tuilagi at 13.

Former age-group international pairing Ford and Farrell last started a Test at 10 and 12 when England lost 23-12 to South Africa in Bloemfontein on June 16, 2018.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Picture: Donall Farmer/PA

Jones insisted selecting the duo together will help England bolster their attacking arsenal with the World Cup fast approaching.

The Australian previously pledged to play “fish and chip”, classic English rugby – but now maintains only a full offensive menu will push the team to their peak.

“Sometimes, the opposition team doesn’t allow you to put the batter on the fish, so you’ve got to play a different way,” said Jones.

“And then you’ve got to fry the fish, or grill the fish.

“So you’ve got to find a different way of doing it.

“That’s all part of the challenge going forward, being adaptable, looking at what’s happening in the game and where we can take it. But we’re taking the right steps forward.

“We’re just trying a different strategic approach to the game.

“It’s about finding out what sort of tactical approaches we can employ and use in Japan, because we’re going to need a few.

“We want to see a passing game.

“We played a quite tight game against Wales. Last week there were zero line breaks.

“So we feel like this game we probably need to pass a bit more, and with George at 10 and Owen at 12 we think we can do that.

“Again you’ve got to look at the context of the game, we’d like to win against Ireland but we’re preparing for the World Cup, so it just gives us another selection strategy going forward.”

Jones’s opposite number Joe Schmidt, meanwhile, has backed rookie playmaker Ross Byrne to seize his World Cup chance at Twickenham.

Leinster star Byrne will make his full Test debut and win just his third cap this weekend, with Ireland not risking Johnny Sexton after Joey Carbery’s ankle injury.

Carbery could well miss the World Cup after damaging ankle ligaments in the 29-10 victory over Italy in Dublin on August 10.

Byrne and replacement Jack Carty can now make their case for World Cup selection at Twickenham, with head coach Schmidt assessing all his fly-half options.

“Ross has trained really well and it’s not his debut, he’s had time with us before, so we’ve got a lot of confidence in him anyway and I think he built his way through the season,” said Schmidt.

“I thought he was maybe not as impressive as Jack early in the season and those two have become really important to us.

“Joey has done well this week. Johnny, he’s fine, but he missed a bit of time with his thumb, so he’s a little bit behind and we know how well he plays for us. We don’t feel that he needs a lot of time with the experience that he’s got.

“So, for us, the guys that need the time are probably Ross and Jack and they’ve got the opportunity to do that this weekend, that they’ll share a bit of time, I’d say, in the middle.”