Sam Simmonds says Eddie Jones has congratulated him on his inclusion in the British & Irish Lions squad despite being overlooked by the coach for the England squad.
Jones took charge of England from 2016 and he was the one who first selected Simmonds for England in 2017. But the player has made only seven Test appearances since then, with his last international coming in 2018.
It seems Simmonds had fallen out of favour with Jones, as he was bizarrely left out of England’s squad throughout 2019. He missed out on selection again during the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup as well as the 2021 Six Nations, despite his excellent form for the Exeter Chiefs in the English Premiership and European Champions Cup.
Then, in another twist, coach Warren Gatland surprisingly picked Simmonds in his 37-man B&I Lions squad for their eight-match tour of South Africa.
In a candid interview with the Mail Online, Simmonds has now revealed the details of a text-message exchange with Jones in the wake of his Lions call-up.
‘He [Jones] sent me a text to say, “Well done”. Over the past few months, there has been more chat with the England set-up and that gives me some confidence,’ Simmonds revealed.
‘I was always hopeful that if I wasn’t selected by the Lions then I’d be involved on the England summer tour.
‘I was gutted not to be involved in the Six Nations but the positive is that my form has been good for Exeter and I’ve been playing in a winning team, which gave me the best possible opportunity to be picked for the Lions.
‘It’ll be great to right some of the wrongs of when I played international rugby in the past. I’m more mature and more physical now. I know how to train.
‘I still want to play for England and be in contention for selection in the autumn,’ Simmonds said.
‘I’ve not been getting selected for England and I’ve made peace with that, but I still want to be a part of a successful England team.
‘I want to get back to playing for England. I feel like I could have a role to play in the England side and hopefully I can prove that in the summer.’
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