Eddie Jones praises competition for back-row places ahead of facing Argentina

9 November 2017, 12:14

Eddie Jones has highlighted the fierce competition for places within the England back-row ahead of their first autumn international against Argentina, live on Sky Sports Action on Saturday.

Sam Underhill will make his second senior England international appearance at Twickenham and Jones is pleased with the depth in competition from his back-row squad members.

Underhill, who made his debut during England's tour of Argentina this summer, has fought off competition from Tom Curry, who will now miss the match after sustaining a wrist injury, to earn the openside flanker jersey against the Pumas but Jones admitted the decision was tough.

"We have had a good battle between him and Curry," said Jones. "We have also got (Sam) Simmonds and (Zach) Mercer.

"We have got some good young backrowers coming through. It is quite exciting for us. There's some great competition. They are athletically good. They have got good attitudes."

Jones has enjoyed great success since taking the reins of England in 2015, which has included leading them to a world-record-equalling run of 18 Test wins, and has described both Underhill and Curry as "genuine" opensides.

The former Australia coach also praised Henry Slade, who will start at inside centre after the versatile Exeter back impressed in England's two-match tour against the Pumas in June.

"He has got everything there is," Jones added. "If you look at the team I think there are at least six or seven that have come out of the Argentina tour. He is one of those guys so it just shows you how beneficial that tour was."

Despite Argentina's lack of confidence heading into the match - the Pumas lost all six of their Rugby Championship fixtures - Jones insists his side face a battle on their hands and has emphasised the importance of 'putting their stamp upfront'.

"It is going to be a tough game," Jones said. "They are coming off the back of not a good season. Their coach is under a lot of pressure. The players are under pressure but they know if they win at Twickenham their whole season turns around.

"We have got to make sure at the start of the game we set the standard and tone of the game. That is going to start with the forwards. It starts with Dylan and that is our aim of the game - to put our stamp on them upfront."

England team to face Argentina: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Courtney Lawes, 5 George Kruis, 6 Chris Robshaw, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Nathan Hughes

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Danny Care, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni