Thu 20 Apr 2017 | 12:39

Jones: Solomona 'X-factor' sealed England call-up

Jones: Solomona 'X-factor' sealed England call-up
Thu 20 Apr 2017 | 12:39
Jones: Solomona 'X-factor' sealed England call-up

Sale wing Solomona, who qualified for England on residency grounds, was one of 15 uncapped players in a 31-man squad named by England coach Jones on Thursday for a two-Test series.

Solomona's cross-code move from English Super League Rugby League club Castleford to Premiership Rugby Union side Sale remains a matter of dispute between the two teams.

And the New Zealand-born flyer's selection by England comes just weeks before World Rugby, Rugby Union's global governing body, is set to extend the time players need to qualify for a country on residency grounds from three years to five.

Jones: Solomona 'X-factor' sealed England call-upBut there is no denying Solomona's talent, with the 23-year-old Auckland-born wing having scored 10 tries in 13 appearances for Sale since joining in December. 

"There's something about him, he finds the [try] line and you like wings who find the line," the Australian Jones told reporters at Twickenham.

"I think he's got that X-factor, whatever you want to call it."

Jones insisted eligibility rule changes had played no part in Solomona's selection, saying: "We don't need to warehouse players in England. 

"That hasn't been part of it. He's been picked purely on merit."

Jones, who won his first 17 Tests as England coach before Ireland denied him back-to-back Grand Slams, said his own career proved success was about attitude and not lifelong allegiance.

"I think I am as desperate to coach England to a win as any England coach and I haven't been brought up in England as you can tell by my accent," he said. "It's about how you feel and how much you want it."

Dylan Hartley remains as England captain after the hooker was overlooked for the British and Irish Lions squad for New Zealand announced Wednesday.

Meanwhile there was no rest from Test duty either for several other senior players who helped England retain their Six Nations title but missed out on the Lions, with fullback Mike Brown, flyhalf George Ford and loose forwards James Haskell and Chris Robshaw all selected to face the Pumas.

Jones, who refused to comment on the Lions – "it's nothing to do with me" – said the composition of his squad, a mix of Test regulars and novices with little in between, was quite deliberate two years out from the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

"We want to find players who are going to be better than the 16 [England] players who are going on the Lions tour," Jones explained. 

"We have looked at trying to discover the best young talent in England. 

"To win the World Cup we need to have the best talent, that is our ultimate destiny."

England's tour party features four teenagers, including the 18-year-old uncapped Curry twins, Ben and Tom, who are back-row teammates of Solomona's at Sale. 

"I'm looking forward to working with the Currys because I want to find out if I can tell the difference between the two of them," joked Jones, who was in the same team at Sydney club Randwick as Australia's Ella brothers.

"I've played with the Ellas and they were hard to work out who was who," he recalled. 

"They would swap roles and no one knew.

"I hear they [the Currys] are very competitive about everything: A-levels, their weight, their haircuts, their girlfriends, everything. I think we'll keep them competing against each other."

England play Argentina in San Juan on June 10 and face the 2015 World Cup semifinalists again in Santa Fe a week later.

Agence France-Presse

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