Jonathan Joseph insists he is not the weak link in England’s team and warned Ireland they will make a big mistake if they fall into the trap of thinking so.
Joseph wins his 50th cap at Twickenham today but will be the centre of attention only when he leads out the team at the start.
Once the game starts the midfield star will take his place on the wing – a position he has NEVER started a Test in his nine-year international career.
With Ireland bringing to London one of the best kick-chase games in the business, Joseph is bound to be targeted in the all-important aerial battle.
But the Bath ace said: “My handling ability is good. I do a lot of high ball stuff on the training pitch. If the ball comes my way I’m going to own it.”
Those are words which Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton will waste little time putting to the test. And with Elliot Daly, not known for his high ball defensive prowess, restored to fullback, the Irish halfbacks will scent opportunity.
But England are back at Twickenham for the first time since reaching the World Cup final. Their most recent memory of home is spanking the Irish by a record margin, albeit in a warm-up friendly, last summer.
“We've mentioned quite a lot this week that we're playing at home in front of our fans,” said hooker Jamie George, “Because we're very proud of our record at Twickenham.
“We've been itching to get back as the support we get there is absolutely incredible. I'm hugely excited to see what the atmosphere will be like.”
It will be sombre if the worst fears of England’s critics come to pass.
Only Jonny May, amongst their back three, is playing in his specialist position. In the back row two of that three – Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry – are out of position too.
Then there is the cavalry on the bench, or rather lack of, when it comes to the backs. There is no recognised back-three cover. The suggestion from Jones is that Ben Earl, a rookie flanker with 15 minutes of Test rugby to his name, will do the honours.
The odd square peg in a round hole you might get away with. A fistful of them, up against unbeaten Ireland, is a colossal leap of faith.
Yet talk to the England players and they tell you the feelgood factor that swept them to the World Cup final has returned this week.
“We are back to the level we want, 100 per cent trust in one another,” said Joseph. “Yeah, that gives you a buzz, a thrill, such added confidence.”
Maybe home advantage, passionate support and the individual quality of these England players selected will be enough.
At the end of a tense and taxing week for the boss, how Jones would relish having the last laugh.
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