Eddie Jones keen to see if rookies can stake claim for Australia tour spot

Full-back Tommy Freeman and hooker Jack Walker are the uncapped players in action at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones will use England’s fixture against the Barbarians to look at some younger players (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Eddie Jones will use England’s fixture against the Barbarians to look at some younger players (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Eddie Jones will use his “teabag theory” to decide if the rookies on parade against the Barbarians on Sunday are ready to participate in England’s tour of Australia.

Full-back Tommy Freeman and hooker Jack Walker are the uncapped players in action at Twickenham, but Joe Cokanasiga, Mark Atkinson and Bevan Rodd will also be seeking the type of performance that convinces Jones they will be needed Down Under.

Emerging prospects populate the bench as well and they enter this annual non-cap international knowing that it is the last chance to secure selection before the touring squad is named on Monday.

“It’s all about opportunity,” said head coach Jones, who has named veteran scrum-half Danny Care on the bench.

“This is a practise game for Australia and an opportunity for some young guys to show us what they’re capable of under almost Test-like conditions. “We’ll see whether they’re ready for the next jump.

“Last-minute impressions are always important. We always talk about the teabag theory. You get your tea bag out of the packet and you never really know how good it is until you put the hot water into it.

Northampton full-back Tommy Freeman is among the players looking to impress Eddie Jones (Adam Davy/PA)

“And on Sunday some of these young guys are going to be in hot water, so we’ll see how good the tea is.”

Jones has called Sunday’s opponents the ‘French Barbarians’ due to their heavy Gallic influence that is a result of Fabien Galthie’s presence as head coach.

Virimi Vakatawa, Damien Penaud and Charles Ollivon are established France internationals, while England lock George Kruis will be playing his final match before retiring.

England will want to avoid a third successive defeat, but Jones insists the outcome has reduced significance.

“You have to remember it is an England XV game. It’s not a Test match, it’s a different situation. It’s a non-capped game. We are experimenting in the game,” Jones said.

“We are looking at players who are capable of playing Test rugby and we are looking at doing a couple of different things tactically to see where we can take it and see if it suits the strengths of the players.”

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