Eddie Jones has admitted Sam Underhill could be England’s missing link — the natural-born openside flanker he feared the nation lacked.
Head coach Jones scoured the country for turnover-hunting sevens in the mould of Australia’s David Pocock when he took the England reins in December 2015.
Saracens fullback Alex Goode has greater motivation than proving Eddie Jones wrong this weekend when he lines up for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham.
Chris Robshaw has admitted he was unsure whether he would ever lead England again after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
But just when the former Japan boss came up empty on that search, England’s 2003 World Cup-winner Richard Hill sent him off to Wales for his long-term solution.
Jones needed little convincing of Underhill’s promise after watching him in action for the Ospreys, and now his switch to Bath frees up the 20-year-old for his England debut against the Barbarians on Sunday.
“We were lucky we had Richard Hill as his mentor, that helped,” said Jones of Underhill, who combined studying at Cardiff University with his Ospreys stint.
“I went and visited him every three or four months, just to have a chat with him, just to see where he’s up to. I didn’t beg him to come back to England because he’s got to want to play for England.
“He did and it was just a matter of finding how he could do that in the best way and being respectful to the Ospreys. The Ospreys have been fantastic in this.
“I think I might have said to Richard Hill, ‘I can’t see any natural sevens in England’ and he said, ‘well there is’.
“I remember having a meeting with all the under-age coaches and we went through all the players that were available and Hilly said, ‘well you’ve got to see this bloke play’. And he was right.
“Sam’s definitely going to add something to us but he’s just starting.”
Sam Underhill, centre, has impressed during his spell at Ospreys. Ian Cook – CameraSport via Getty Images
Former Gloucester star Underhill could yet win his first full cap on England’s Argentina tour next month, with Sale’s teenage twins Tom and Ben Curry also heading off for the two-Test challenge against the Pumas.
Jones believes both Currys could well also turn into natural opensides — potentially leaving England suddenly well stocked in that role for some time ahead.
“The great thing for us as well is these Curry boys; they are going to be something if they stick at it, stick at the basics of their game,” said Jones.
“They’ve got good work ethics, they love the game and they want to get better.
“They’ve got good skills. We’ve turned up three sevens in one batch.
“Tom is definitely a seven and Ben is probably a seven as well.
“For this weekend, Sam Underhill is at the start of what is potentially a Test career so I expect him to do the fundamentals well, make his tackles, do his clear-outs and be a link player.
“But he is certainly a player at training who has impressed. He has got a nice, mature way about him, he is a very hard worker off the field and he has made a really stand-out impression in his first few days here.
“And he has got something about him. Any kid who goes off and leaves a club in England when he is almost guaranteed a progression through, goes off to Wales, fights his way and gets into the Ospreys, he has got something about him.”
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/19475896/eddie-jones-tips-sam-underhill-fill-england-openside-void
Jones excited by Underhill potential
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY