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Joseph admits his place in England’s starting line-up is never guaranteed

Eddie Jones will reveal on Thursday morning who is to partner Owen Farrell in midfield against Scotland.

Jonathan Joseph
Jonathan Joseph

Jonathan Joseph accepts that his outside centre duel with Ben Te’o means his England place is always shrouded in uncertainty.

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Eddie Jones will reveal on Thursday morning who is to partner Owen Farrell in midfield on Saturday when the NatWest 6 Nations title defence resumes against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Te’o’s powerful ball carrying was preferred for the rout of Italy in round one, but six days later Jones opted for the slicker footwork and defensive expertise of Joseph.

The decision at outside centre is the only outstanding team selection issue for the trip across the border and Joseph knows the requirements of the chosen gameplan could work against him.

With the George Ford and Farrell axis emerging as one of England’s strengths under Jones, making the pair all but undroppable, outside centre offers the opportunity to adjust the tactical approach of the threequarters.

“The competition is always right up there and it’s been good with Ben. We both offer slightly different things, but it’s healthy,” Joseph said.

“We’re friends off the field but at the same time competing on it. It depends on each player, but I’m one who is never quite sure if he’s playing until the team has been named.

Ben Te’o File Photo

“Every player wants to play, that’s no secret. If Eddie has a reason why you might not be involved, you have to take that on board.

“It might be constructive criticism, it might be that he wants to look at another combination. You have to put your trust in him, he’s your coach and his word is final.”

Te’o made his first appearance after almost four months out with an ankle sprain against Italy and performed well, only for Jones to suspect he might then suffer from ‘second game syndrome’ following such a lengthy spell of rehabilitation.

“In my own mind, I probably didn’t think about it in that way but that was Eddie trusting himself and his experience,” Te’o said.

“Eddie’s the boss, he made a decision and that’s how it goes. It doesn’t matter. You just go with it. Of course I thought I could play. And could back it up, second game, third game…”

Former rugby league star Te’o insists he provides more than a midfield battering ram, but is happy to perform that role.

“I’d like to say there’s a bit more to my game than carrying but let’s be real, that’s a strong part of my game. There’s no shying away from that. I do enjoy doing it,” he said.

“You’re always working on different things but if you get given a job of go-forward that’s going to help the team, then that’s what I’ve gotta do. I don’t mind that.”

Scotland entered the Six Nations amid high expectations only to be routed by Wales before dispatching France.

“We want to take our defence to a whole new level. We’re happy with where we are and will keep looking to push the boundaries,” Joseph said.

“They’re playing England, so it’ll be the Scotland that beat France who will turn up. The crowd will be on our backs, but we’re used to it now and almost thrive off it.”



From Belfast Telegraph