Elliot Daly at the top of the class in England’s half-term report

first_imgEngland rugby union team Support The Guardian Read more Share on Pinterest Five England players who will have impressed Eddie Jones this autumn … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Reuse this content Autumn internationals Topics A ninth victory of the year, seven more tries and one or two World Cup prospects now burnished in the heat of international battle, yet a nagging feeling remains that as autumn turns to winter, we are in the dark as to whether England have made strides or small steps this November – the absent All Blacks still cast a shadow over Twickenham.Quantifying the success of an autumn campaign was comfortably rounded off against Samoa on Saturday is no easy task. As Eddie Jones, who on Sunday night was named World Rugby’s coach of the year, said: “We’re not involved in the science … I could make up percentages which I’ve done before … Generally, we are moving in a positive direction and that’s the only thing I can say.”Jones was also asked to give himself a half-term report, considering he is now two years into his four-year project, and his answer was equally opaque: “Doing the basics well but needs to keep improving.” But without a visit from the All Blacks, perhaps the best gauge of England’s autumn is to measure it against Jones’s stated aims. He wants England to be uncomfortable between now and the World Cup and he wants to increase his squad depth – the ideal scenario being three players in each position he implicitly trusts. Certainly, Samoa’s back row, led by the excellent TJ Ioane, made for some uncomfortable moments while, after lighting up Twickenham with two second-half tries, Elliot Daly has perhaps emerged as England’s star of the autumn and appears destined to stay on the wing. “Eddie gave me great confidence when I first went there against Fiji [last November],” said Daly. “He just said: ‘Play as a centre and defend on the wing.’ That is exactly what I do.”Sam Underhill aside however, no one has forced their way into Jones’s first-choice XV, even if Sam Simmonds – who made a fine first start on Saturday – and the ever-improving Charlie Ewels, among the try-scorers against Samoa, have added to the talent pool. Indeed, it is only tighthead prop where Jones expressed some concern – and even that felt like a public kick up the backside for Kyle Sinckler.“[We stop building depth] when we play the first game of the World Cup,” added Jones. “You have got to remember, everything we do is geared towards the first game of the World Cup. My job is selection and that’s all I do. All the coaching is done by the players and the other coaches. If I’m not down that [selection] road then the RFU should sack me.”There are however, a number of things Jones would have liked to see this autumn but did not. Henry Slade was markedly improved in the No13 jersey against Samoa but he did not seize the opportunity to demand selection in a way that his talent permits. In addition, England still seem to lack direction when Billy Vunipola is absent and we have not yet seen Jones employ a battering ram in the centres for any sustained length of time. For that very reason, Manu Tuilagi remains in the long-term picture: “All I can remember is him playing at his best against New Zealand [in 2012]. If he is capable of doing that consistently then there’s a chance of being in our squad.”Furthermore, the Six Nations – a competition Jones is desperate to win for a record third time in a row – will pose far tougher questions, as he acknowledges, “it is going to be harder than any of the Six Nations we’ve played in previously”. And while he was not interested in discussing Scotland’s emergence this autumn, Ben Youngs was more willing to do so.“I saw the Scotland result [against Australia] and they pushed the All Blacks last week,” Youngs said. “It is unbelievably competitive. We want to win the title. We want to be a better team than we are now because there is not an area in our game that is outstanding. We know that what we’ve done over the last three weeks won’t be good enough to compete for the title.” Share on WhatsApp Eddie Jones Since you’re here… Samoa rugby union team England’s cause will, of course, be aided by the return of Billy Vunipola, Jack Nowell and Ben Te’o from injury, while Owen Farrell and the other rested British & Irish Lions should also be firing on all cylinders. And regardless of Jones’s relationship with statistics, one that needs no embellishment is that England have now won 22 of their 23 Tests in his tenure. He bristled at the criticism that came his side’s way for the stodgy nature of their victory over Argentina but the ruthlessness with which Australia were killed off was undeniably impressive.The triumph over Samoa was at times both slick and sloppy but further evidence that England’s winning habit is deeply ingrained, and they consistently perform with an intensity that is now a prerequisite. “The only reason I came to England was because I got offered to coach a team I thought could be bloody good,” added Jones. “I think we’re good, we’re not bloody good at the moment but that’s what we’re going to become.”England Brown; May (Rokoduguni, 47), Slade, Lozowski(Francis, 57), Daly; Ford (co-capt), Care (Youngs, 57); Genge (Marler, 46), George (Hartley, 64), Cole (Williams, 57), Launchbury (Lawes, 31), Ewels (Isiekwe, 64), Itoje, Robshaw (co-capt), Simmonds.Tries Brown, Lozowski, Ewels, Daly 2, Slade, Rokoduguni. Cons Ford 5. Pen Ford.Samoa Tuala; Perez, Fonotia, Leiua (Lee-Lo, 68), Lemi (Taulagi, 71); Nanai-Williams, Polataivao (Matavao, 75); Jordan Lay (James Lay, 57), Matu’u (Leiataua, 31), Brighouse (Sasagi, 47), Tyrell (Lemalu, 62), Vui (capt), Fa’asalele, Ioane, Lam (Treviranus, 68). Sin-bin Fa’asalele 69.Tries Fa’asalele, Vui. Cons Nanai-Williams 2.Referee Andrew Brace (Ire). Attendance 81,911. news Share via Email Share on Twitter Read more Share on LinkedIn Rugby union Eddie Jones a happy man as Jamie George keeps Dylan Hartley on his toes Share on Messenger Share on Facebooklast_img read more

Man City ace Mendy aiming for March return

first_imgManchester City Manchester City star Mendy targets March return Dom Farrell 21:37 3/2/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) BenjaminMendy - cropped Getty Images Manchester City Everton v Manchester City Manchester City v Manchester United Everton Manchester United Premier League The France international had targeted the Champions League semi-finals as his return date – but he should be back sooner Manchester City left-back Benjamin Mendy believes he could be back in action by the end of this month following cruciate knee ligament surgery.France international Mendy joined Pep Guardiola’s side from Monaco last July for a fee in the region of £52 million, only to have an impressive start to life at the Etihad Stadium halted by injury during September’s 5-0 win over Crystal Palace.The 23-year-old set the Champions League semi-finals, which begin on April 24, as his return date but his progress has been quicker than expected. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player “When I started my recovery, I had in mind the semi-finals of the Champions League,” he told City’s official website.”That was my goal, but I am coming back a bit quicker than expected originally so maybe it will be possible for me to return sooner than that. I believe in this.”I think it’s possible for me to come back within four weeks. It’s not a good thing to come back too soon and you have to take your time.”We will see how things go, but I am working hard and am optimistic.”That timeframe could put Mendy in contention for City’s trip to Everton on March 31, with the derby at home to Manchester United up a week later.A commanding 16-point lead at the Premier League summit with 10 matches to play has brought the prospect of Guardiola’s side clinching glory when they face their bitter rivals firmly into view.It is a match Mendy is certainly keen to be involved in.”The Manchester derby is a realistic aim. That’s half clear in my mind. I really want to play that game,” he said.”Of course, there is the World Cup on the horizon, too. For me, there is no doubt regarding the World Cup.”After I return, it’s on me to impress; I have to make sure I come back well and to keep the rhythm. Before it was one of my targets, but now I know it will be fine.”City lifted the EFL Cup thanks to a 3-0 win over Arsenal at Wembley last weekend and are 4-0 up after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Basel, who they host in Manchester next week.last_img read more