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England 'like any family' says Jones as he looks forward to further friction in squad

Ben Te’o and Mike Brown were reportedly dropped after a fight during their Italy training camp..

Happier times: Te'o and George Ford celebrate against Scotland.
Happier times: Te'o and George Ford celebrate against Scotland.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

ENGLAND HEAD COACH Eddie Jones refused to go into detail about the omission of  Ben Te’o from his 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

The former Leinster centre lost out to Piers Francis among four England centres, despite being an ever-present choice under Australian boss Jones when available.

The 32-year-old was reportedly involved in a fight with fullback Mike Brown during a ‘team bonding’ exercise in Treviso and neither are among the trimmed squad.

“I’m not going to go into reasons why he (Te’o) was not selected,” Jones said.

“We have had that conversation with Ben, he understands it,” the former Australia and Japan coach added.

“He’s not in our top 31 players at the moment.”

But Jones did leave the door ajar to a late call-up although he would not confirm if Te’o — or indeed anyone else — was on a standby list.

“Obviously a number of very disappointed players,” he said. “We feel for them.

“The message we have for them is that they have still got to be ready because the circumstances of the World Cup dictates that you have injuries.”

While not expanding on the Te’o issue, Jones admitted that further friction within the squad was possible owing to players’ innate competitiveness.

“I’m sure we’ll have our problems and we’ll deal with it,” said the Australian, “we’re like any family – everyone sits around the dining table, everyone enjoys good conversation but you know there are problems and we’re exactly the same.

“We’ve got 31 sitting around the table, we can have nice conversations [but] you know potentially there’s a problem. The players – they are adults, they’re responsible, they want to play for England and we could have some problems. If we do, we’ll deal with them.

“Every team has problems‚ I don’t believe the Legacy book [about the All Blacks culture], which everyone seems to base their opinion on teams on. No team’s like that – every team has its problems.”

Eddie Jones before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

In contrast to Te’o uncapped former sevens specialist Ruaridh McConnochie was included following the wing’s strong end to the season for Bath.

Scrum-half Willi Heinz, flanker Lewis Ludlam and hooker Jack Singleton, who all made their debuts in Sunday’s 33-19 World Cup warm-up defeat of Wales, were also selected.

“Firstly I think it’s always nice to bring new blood in, it always freshens things up,” Jones said.

“Ruaridh we’ve been watching quite closely through the club season. I was impressed by him.

“Lewis came from nowhere. We watched him in club rugby, he’d done particularly well and we thought we’d roll the dice and bring him into camp to see what he could offer.”

Owen Farrell — who did not play on Sunday — has retained the captaincy, with the Saracens star one of two fly-halves along with George Ford. Former captain Dylan Hartley was omitted following the hooker’s long-term absence through concussion and then a knee injury.

Jones has named his squad nearly a month ahead of World Rugby’s September 8 deadline, with England still to play three warm-up fixtures — a return clash against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday followed by matches against Ireland and Italy.

Jones, who took over as England coach following their embarrassing-first round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup, said that experience had played a part in announcing the squad early.

“We have taken the decision to go early because of what we learnt from previous campaigns,” he said.

“We want the squad to know early and now we can get on and be the best prepared England side there has ever been, ready to win the World Cup.”

England begin their 2019 World Cup pool campaign against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22.

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