March 15, 2019 / 12:29 PM / 2 months ago

England coach Jones drops Cokanasiga to look after him

BAGSHOT, England (Reuters) - Eddie Jones says he is looking after winger Joe Cokanasiga by dropping him from the England squad to face Scotland in the final game of the Six Nations on Saturday, a week after his man-of-the-match performance in their thrashing of Italy.

England's Joe Cokanasiga poses with his Man Of The Match medal after the match Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra/File Photo

Jones named his team on Thursday, recalling Jack Nowell to the right wing and moving Manu Tuilagi, who scored two tries in last week’s 57-14 win, to inside centre to accommodate the return of Henry Slade at 13.

In two other changes Ben Moon comes in for Ellis Genge in the front row while flanker Mark Wilson starts in place of Brad Shields.

The big talking point, however, was the absence of giant 21-year-old Cokanasiga who, winning his fourth cap, wowed the crowd at Twickenham last week with his athletic running and eye-catching one-hand carrying.

Jones, however, was quick to dampen down the adulation, describing Clive Woodward’s comparison of him to former New Zealand great Jonah Lomu as “ridiculous”. He also said the one-handed carrying that exposed his Fijian heritage was more pleasing to journalists than coaches.

“Joe’s a good, young player and we’re looking after him,” Jones said on Thursday. “We don’t need to rush him, we’ll bring him through carefully and he’s got a long career ahead of him.

“He’ll feature very strongly in our plans for the future, but we just feel this week that Jack Nowell is our best player in that position.”

Jones said Cokanasiga would definitely feature in some of England’s four World Cup warm-up games in August and would be “ready” for the tournament in Japan.

“You need to bring young players through carefully, sometimes you let them go and sometimes you pull them back a bit,” he said.

‘GREAT ACHIEVEMENT’

At the other end of the scale, Ben Youngs will win his 85th cap, taking him ahead of Danny Care as England’s most-capped scrumhalf.

“It’s a great achievement but I know for him the most important thing is to win on Saturday,” said Jones, who famously threw a bag of sweets at Youngs when he first took over, saying he was too heavy.

By the time England kick off at 1700GMT they will know whether they are playing for the title - if Ireland have beaten Wales earlier in the day - or just the Calcutta Cup should Wales triumph in Cardiff to secure a Grand Slam.

Jones said there was nothing planned in terms of watching the earlier game. “The only thing we can control is how we play,” he said. “If Wales win, so be it. If Ireland win, so be it. We are ready to play well ourselves.”

Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983 and, after winning their opening game of this year’s Six Nations against Italy, they lost their next three amid a lengthy injury list.

They did beat England in Edinburgh last year when they outmuscled Jones’s team at the ruck and the Australian said he expected a different scenario on Saturday after overseeing a massive improvement in that area, and in their discipline.

“If we impose our game on Scotland it’ll be pretty tough for them,” said Jones, whose team finished fifth last season after losing their last three games and then lost two in a row against South Africa.

“The massive improvement for us is in our mindset,” he said. “I think we are clearly getting really good clarity about the way we want to play and the way we can be the best in the world.

“That’s developing and gets tested all the time because as soon as you get good at something someone finds a way to stop you.”

Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis

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