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Eddie Jones praises Tom Wood's work ethic after flanker's England recall

Published 26/10/2016

Northampton flanker Tom Wood has been recalled by England
Northampton flanker Tom Wood has been recalled by England

Eddie Jones insists flanker Tom Wood has reclaimed his place in England's squad after shedding his "sense of entitlement".

But the head coach hinted Teimana Harrison is the preferred option at openside for the Old Mutual Series that opens against South Africa next month.

Wood has been included among the 33 players named for the autumn internationals after profiting from the injury crisis that has seen six players ruled out of contention to fill a long-standing problem position.

The 29-year-old's international career appeared to be over after revealing in January that Jones had told him he was "distinctly average" and lacked the world-class work-rate demanded of a six.

Jones disputes saying the remark and has since revised his opinion of Wood after sensing the Northampton captain had grown complacent during Stuart Lancaster's regime.

"That's not something I say. He has obviously got a vivid memory. I might have said he had no standout parts of his game," Jones said.

"The standout part of his game now is his work-rate. He has an incredible work-rate and he brings that to the table. I think he has gone back and looked at his game.

"Maybe he was comfortable, maybe he felt there was a sense of entitlement about him being in the England side.

"What I like about him - and we have had a number of other players do it - he has gone back and looked at himself and found ways to improve himself.

"His work off the ball is a lot better. He's got a bit more dynamism to his ball-carrying which, previously, he didn't have.

"His lineout work has always been good and obviously the injuries have presented an opportunity, so it's a combination of him improving and the injuries.

"I'm looking for him to come in and make a difference in that back row; to be the work-rate-type player.

"He could be a six or seven. We'll spin the dice."

Harrison's roller-coaster international career continues its unpredictable trajectory after Jones hinted that he is now in pole position to continue in the number seven jersey.

A promising debut against Wales in May was followed by the ignominy of being replaced after only 31 minutes of the third Test against Australia in June for failing to bring enough physicality to the back row.

Jones stated last month that he is unsuitable for the role at this stage of his career, but his refusal to be subdued during Northampton's 41-7 rout at Castres has been noted.

"It's his effectiveness as a ball-carrier, his effectiveness clearing out and his effectiveness in the tackle," Jones said.

"He's starting to stop people and he's starting to put people back when he carries.

"I thought his game against Castres was a really good performance so he has certainly elevated himself greatly."

Kyle Sinckler has been on the periphery of the squad since 2014, but the Harlequin is one of only two tighthead props among the 33 after displacing Paul Hill and is set to make his debut off the bench against the Springboks on November 12.

"Sinckler's done well. The thing I like about him is that he's always been a guy who likes to make big ball-carries but he's added to his game," Jones said.

"His scrummaging has become a lot more consistent. He has really benefited from the tuition from (former Wales prop) Adam Jones at Harlequins.

"He is working hard off the ball and there aren't so many histrionics off the ball - he's getting on with the game more now.

"I like how he has developed, so he has elevated himself above Paul Hill."

On Sunday the 33-man squad depart for a week of warm weather training in Portugal.

"We've got a big job ahead because we've got 10 guys who'd normally be in our top 30 not there," Jones said.

"That leaves a tactical gap, a physical gap and a social gap, so we've got to fill all of those gaps. We've got a week in Portugal to do that before start Test match preparation."

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