England coach Eddie Jones has hinted at the possible selection of Jack Nowell at blindside flank in the lead-up to the World Cup.
Nowell plays on the wing for the Exeter Chiefs and is equally at home at outside centre and fullback. The 25-year-old has won 31 Test caps, and all of them were in one of those three positions.
But with the World Cup looming, Jones is considering experimenting with nine forwards in England’s starting lineup during the upcoming Six Nations, and he has identified Nowell as the primary option to shift from the backline to the back row.
‘The game has changed. The game used to be 80 minutes, now it is 100 minutes. The next change is you will have players who can play [in the] backs and forwards,’ said Jones. ‘It is going to happen and Jack Nowell is the one who stands out.
‘Jack could definitely play at six [blindside] because he is a great player and he is going to be the new breed of player. We haven’t tried him out, but he is definitely an option. He has great ball-carrying, great tackling skill; he puts his head over the ball, he’s a tough little bloke. He is going to be the new breed of player.
‘Do you remember Rod Macqueen [Australia’s World Cup-winning coach]? He used to talk about it. There are great opportunities in the game to change it. There is no reason why you can’t play nine forwards. The extra forward could stand at blindside wing.’
England open their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Dublin, followed by games against France (home), Wales (away), Scotland and Italy (both home). Jones could use any one of those Tests to implement his plan to move Nowell.
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