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Eddie Jones has challenged England’s forward pack to rebuild its global fear factor.
England will field eight uncapped players in Sunday’s Twickenham Test against the USA, with Gloucester’s Lewis Ludlow captaining the side on his debut.
And head coach Jones wants his young side missing a host of British and Irish Lions tourists to make a powerful statement of intent, in England’s first outing since finishing a disappointing fifth in the Six Nations.
“It’s a great opportunity for this pack to take a step forward for England,” said Jones.
“I think we were all disappointed by our pack’s display in the Six Nations.
“And this is the first opportunity for England to show that we want to be a pack that’s feared around the world, and we haven’t been.
“We weren’t during the Six Nations, and we want to get that mantle back.”
England have loaded their bench with six forwards, leaving just Dan Robson and Jacob Umaga to cover the backs from the replacements.
Jones revealed England nearly put seven forwards on the bench, such is their desire to dominate Sunday’s visitors.
“To me that’s the right bench for this game, we toyed with the idea of going seven-one but we’ve gone six-two,” said Jones.
“And the USA are generally a big, physical team.
“You look at their performances in the World Cup in 2019, after 20 minutes there’s nothing between them and the four teams they played against.
“So we’re expecting a really big physical game and it’s going to be important our forwards impose themselves on them early.”
Gallagher Premiership-winning fly-half Marcus Smith of Harlequins will lead England’s backline this weekend, with Jones backing the 22-year-old to transfer his attacking instincts to the Test arena.
“We had really good competition for that spot between Jacob Umaga, Marcus Smith and George Furbank,” said Jones.
“So all those guys have been competing hard.
“It’s a tight call but Marcus gets the nod.
“A number 10 is a bus driver and a conductor.
“He’s got to make sure that everyone’s playing together, and pick the right route and it’s no different for Marcus.
“I think rugby’s always about good decision making.
“It’s about making good decisions. You’ve got three ways to get the ball forward: kick, run or pass, and it’s always about making the right decisions.
“And the good players make the right decisions, whether they are out in the back yard with their mum and dad, out in the street with their mates, or playing club rugby for Harlequins or Test rugby for England.
“It’s about making the right decisions and we want him to make the right decisions.”
England could hand out a total 12 debuts this weekend, with Jones excited to usher through a new generation of international talent.
“It’s a great opportunity, it’s not about Test experience, it’s about those guys earning the shirt,” said Jones.
“The average number of Tests an England player plays is seven.
“So any opportunity a guy gets to play for England, he wants to make sure he beats that average.
“And to do that you have to perform well.
“So there’s an opportunity for eight guys on Sunday to take the shirt, and if they don’t wear it again, to pass it on in a better state.
“And if they do wear it again, make sure next time they play, they play even better. So that’s the exciting part of this.”