LONDON – England head coach Eddie Jones said four warm-up matches ahead of the Rugby World Cup will allow his side to fine-tune its game to the extent it will be ready to win the trophy for a second time.
The 59-year-old Australian — who was on the receiving end when as head coach of Australia when England won the Webb Ellis trophy in Sydney in 2003 — was speaking after naming a 33-player squad for the first of those games against Six Nations Grand Slam winner Wales at Twickenham on Sunday.
The squad includes four uncapped players with Jack Singleton and Lewis Ludlam joining the forwards and New Zealand-born scrumhalf Willi Heinz and former England and Britain Sevens star Ruaridh McConnochie in the backs.
Jones has released back to their clubs experienced fullback Mike Brown, British and Irish Lions center Ben Te’o, uncapped backrow forward Alex Dombrandt, and scrumhalf Ben Spencer, who was pivotal to Saracens winning the European Champions Cup and English Premiership double last term.
Exeter Chiefs outstanding wing Jack Nowell will continue his rehabilitation due to an ankle injury, which he suffered in the 37-34 Premiership final defeat to Saracens on June 1.
“We have worked hard (at a training camp in Treviso, Italy) and now move into a four-game preparation phase where the development of the team tactically is paramount,” said Jones in an RFU statement.
“We are grateful for the strong opposition to test our game fitness.
“By the time we fly out on the 8th of September we will be ready to win the Rugby World Cup.
“We are not there yet but we have four games to get ready.”
Jones, who guided England to two Six Nations titles including the 2016 Grand Slam since he took over after it exited the 2015 World Cup in the pool stage, said there was still hope for those players omitted from this squad to make the plane for Japan.
“Players excluded from being involved in this camp are naturally disappointed but may get another opportunity so they must be ready,” he said.
England plays a return match against Wales on Aug. 17 in Cardiff, followed by games against Ireland (Aug. 24), and Italy (Sept. 6) prior to departure for Japan.
England begins its World Cup campaign against Tonga in Sapporo (Sept. 22) before playing the United States in Kobe (Sept. 26), 2015 semifinalist Argentina in Tokyo (Oct. 5) and rounding out its pool matches against old foe France in Yokohama (Oct. 12).