| 11.9°C Belfast

Eddie Jones has high hopes for Manu Tuilagi


England boss Eddie Jones has high hopes for Manu Tuilagi.

England boss Eddie Jones has high hopes for Manu Tuilagi.

England boss Eddie Jones has high hopes for Manu Tuilagi.

Eddie Jones insists Manu Tuilagi can perform a similar role to New Zealand centre Ma'a Nonu as one of a cluster of England players who have the potential to become world class.

Tuilagi is expected to make his first Test appearance in more than 18 months in the final two rounds of the RBS 6 Nations against Wales and France once he has built up match fitness after being stricken by a long-term groin injury.

Jones believes the 24-year-old, who has played most of his rugby at outside centre, is better suited to the number 12 jersey - the position double World Cup winner Nonu filled 103 times for the All Blacks.

Tuilagi is among a group of five players who Jones has identified as having the ability to become the best in the world, with George Ford, Henry Slade, Maro Itoje and Jack Clifford thought to be the others.

"Manu can play both inside and outside centre, but when he's fit, he can be a Ma'a Nonu-type player," said Jones, who has included Tuilagi in his Elite Player Squad for the Six Nations.

"He's got an exceptional skill-base and exceptional feet. He's got the ability to carry the ball through the line, he's got a short passing game, he can develop a kicking game too. He can be one of the guys that the team is built around.

"I have no doubt that in this current squad of 33 there are four or five players who if they change their mindset and they change their attitude, they can become world class players.

"If we get four or five world class players - and I'm not going to name them - then we can be the dominant team in the world. That's what it takes.

"Why haven't England been dominant since 2003? Because they haven't had those players. Our job is to develop those players and if we do that the side will come through.

"There are enough good, hard working players here, but to be dominant a team in the world you've got to be better than good and hard working.

"You have to want to do that bit extra, seek that extra bit of advice, you have to look at doing things differently. You've got to be desperate and hungry for success."

Jones will view complaints from players over the coming weeks as evidence that his methods are working as he seeks to transform England from a team that failed to advance from the group stage of their own World Cup into the game's dominant force.

"We have to create an environment in the team that dictates the players want to be absolutely fanatical about wanting to be in a winning England team," Jones said.

"I have been employed by England, not to be the saviour of English rugby. My job is to create a winning English rugby team.

"That's what I have to do and that is what I am going to do. If players don't want to be part of that they don't have to be. The players have a choice, if they don't want to work hard they won't be there.

"It's going to take more than they have ever done in their lives to create a winning England team, that's the reality of it. Because otherwise it would have happened by now.

"Something has to change. It's the old definition of insanity. Someone expecting different people to do the same thing over and over again hoping to get different results.

"It doesn't happen. If we do the same as we have done since 2003 then we will get the same results.

"I have coached for 20 years and the number of players I have found that don't want to do it are absolutely minimal.

"You will find players that complain about it. I have no doubt that in the first couple of weeks there will be complaints coming out. I will be happy if that happens, because then I will know we are getting change.

"I think that the players are going to find it difficult, because sometimes if you play in the Premiership here and you do well then you get selected for England and you are quite comfortable. We have to make the players a little bit uncomfortable."

Jones spoke to former Australia openside George Smith, a player he first capped in 2000 but now of Wasps, to canvas his opinion on openside and hints James Haskell could be the player picked at seven for the Six Nations, with Chris Robshaw in pole position at six.

"We have to pick a bloke who at the moment who can do that primary job of first phase work," Jones said.

"There are a couple of blokes in the squad who we think can do it, not on a long term basis, but on a short term basis. Haskell might be one of them."