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Tom Hamilton was brought up near the stands of the Recreation Ground and joined ESPN in 2011. He is now Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
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Eddie Jones sticks with ruthless selection policy from the start
Tom Hamilton
January 13, 2016
Eddie Jones has less than a month to mould his squad into Six Nations contenders © Getty Images

TWICKENHAM -- Eddie Jones warned there would be noses put out joint by his first England squad and the axing of Tom Youngs personifies this new era. Youngs, who Richard Cockerill said should be "the first name on the team-sheet for England", is one of nine players omitted who featured in the Rugby World Cup. In leaving out that group, Jones has culled 297 caps of Test experience and a further six British & Irish Lions caps.

When Stuart Lancaster named his first Elite Player Squad in Jan. 2012, he made 13 changes from the group that played in the 2011 World Cup and called up nine uncapped players. Jones has gone for seven fresh faces, with 21 included from the final group picked by Lancaster. Just two players are over 30; despite the need for England to get off on a winning start, this is as much a team for now as it is 2019.

The seven debutants will be thrown into Test action at different stages of the Jones era but Maro Itoje is likely to be the first to play in the Six Nations. After winning the 2014 Junior World Championship title as England captain, he has been the coming man and his versatility across the back-row and in the locks alongside his old head on young man view could see him handed his debut against Scotland on Feb. 6.

The same goes for Northampton's Paul Hill who has only been playing Aviva Premiership rugby since the start of the season but he has the potential to be England's anchor at tight-head for the next 15 years. Sale's back-row Josh Beaumont may have to wait a little while longer and Jack Clifford could feasibly be thrown into the Calcutta Cup match but still has potential to fill into.

In the backs Ollie Devoto and Sam Hill will offer an option at inside centre but the smart money is on George Ford and Owen Farrell linking up at 10 and 12 respectively against Scotland. Elliot Daly and Jonathan Joseph will vie for the outside centre spot for that opener but later in the tournament will loom the recovered presence of Manu Tuilagi.

'Jones must decide when players are ready'

He was the ingredient Lancaster greatly lamented having unavailable to him due to his longstanding groin issue but Jones is hopeful of having him fit for match four against Wales on March 12. He is the closest England have to a genuine world-class player but the recall of Dylan Hartley ticks another box which was hard to fill in the previous era: experience.

In this latest fresh-faced selection, his nous is key. Hartley has been sidelined through concussion and it will be hard for him to usurp Mike Haywood -- Northampton's current first-choice hooker -- but at his best, he will lead from the front and bring much-needed set piece stability. Where Hartley has profited from a change in coaching staff, Youngs has seemingly lost out. He was a favourite of the previous regime but for the time being is persona non grata.

While Youngs will have to wait for a chance to get back into the squad, Jones will also leave the players waiting over who will the captain to lead this team into the new chapter. It could yet be Chris Robshaw but he will be at blindside and not in the No.7 jersey. Jones will pick his starting XV first and then decide on his skipper.

Anyone who wants to make that cut will need to bring "enthusiasm, energy and a lot of hard work". England's record in the Six Nations since 2003 has been dismal -- they have won a mere single title. The hope, from an England perspective, is that Jones will halt this dismal run.

Brown: There is good times ahead for England

Feb. 6 will be the first time Jones' England are put to the test. While Jones is adamant that is the only game on his radar at present, the youth suggests more than just a mere eye on the future all geared towards turning England into a successful side.

"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves," Jones said. "We are ranked fourth in Europe. You can't get too ahead of yourself when you are fourth in Europe. We've just got to take each game by itself. We want to play well. If we play good rugby, we'll win the Championship, if we don't play good rugby we won't win the Championship.

"We've got seven training sessions to get them ready for the first game. There's not going to be some radical new-age rugby coming out of seven training sessions [before England face Scotland]. We've got to build the side slowly and surely to ensure they keep improving. At the end of the Championship, what we'd like to see is a team that's a vast improvement from the team at the start of the Championship. If we get that, we are going to have a good result."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
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