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18th Jan 2019

Clive Woodward rubbishes Eddie Jones’ idea for Jack Nowell against Ireland

Jack O'Toole

England World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward has rubbished the idea that Exeter Chiefs winger Jack Nowell could be used as a forward during next month’s Six Nations.

England head coach Eddie Jones said on Thursday that Nowell, who has played just 240 minutes for the Chiefs this season, could be deployed as an openside flanker for the national side in what would be a huge transition for the 25-year-old.

“There is no reason why you can’t play nine forwards. [The extra forward] could stand [at] blindside wing,” said Jones.

“When Japan played Georgia we played nine forwards. No one knew. It’s like in football, 4-4-2. Everyone used to play that.

“Then it became 5-3-2-1 or whatever it was [5-3-2], so there is no reason in rugby why there might not be changes in formations. I’m serious that there are opportunities to change the game because it has become so orthodox. Be really good at the core things but look at opportunities where you can change it.”

Woodward has not bought into the idea at all and dismissed the idea as completely irrelevant in his Daily Mail column.

“This talk of using Jack Nowell as an extra forward or an outright number seven is a huge own goal,” wrote Woodward.

“This was his first press conference of 2019, a massive year for English rugby and he’s discussing something completely irrelevant.

“It may be Nowell is going to play more centrally without the ball rather than being left out wide. But, again, why telegraph this? Ireland will be tracking him now.”

England named their 35-man squad for the opening round of the Six Nations on Thursday with Owen Farrell set to captain the side in the absence of Dylan Hartley.

The Northampton hooker misses the cut with a knee injury allowing Farrell to skipper Eddie Jones’ side with England also calling on the uncapped quartet of Jack Singleton (Worcester), Ben Earl (Saracens), Ollie Thorley (Glouceser) and Dan Robson (Wasps).

Chris Robshaw, Sam Underhill, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson all miss out through injury, however, Jones will be able to welcome back Billy and Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury and Ellis Genge after each player recovered from their respective injuries.

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