Eddie Jones should “freshen things up” and avoid becoming dependent on the same group of players, according to former England international Lewis Moody.
England’s Six Nations title defence is over following back-to-back defeats against Scotland and France, and the only thing resting on Saturday’s Twickenham clash with Ireland is whether Joe Schmidt’s men can clinch the Grand Slam.
Jones had only lost one of 25 Tests in charge prior to a 25-13 defeat at Murrayfield last month, while Saturday’s 22-16 reverse in Paris handed Ireland the championship.
And Moody, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, the long-standing supporter of rugby at all levels; from grassroots to the elite, has encouraged Jones to be more experimental in the build-up to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“You don’t play 27 games and have 24 wins without being a very good side that’s got a very good group of coaches behind it,” the World Cup winner told Omnisport. “When defeats happen, the easiest thing is to go and speculate about who should be in and who should be out.
“Everyone expects success, especially from a team who have been so successful.
“But sometimes you just have to freshen things up a bit. Eddie Jones has been a breath of fresh air for England and the media in how he approaches and talks about it.
“If anything, it will probably remind England that you cannot rest on your laurels.
“It always seems to happen with coaches. I certainly played under coaches who became very dependent on certain players because they trust them and they’re invested in the individuals.
“Sometimes you can become too dependent on certain players and you don’t give the other outlying players the opportunities that they need before a big tournament.
“I think this series of defeats will have reminded them that, as good as our strength in depth was prior to this tournament, we’ve now had a series of injuries and actually, with those injuries, we’ve found out that the balance across the squad has been missing, because it means that we’ve not been able to perform at the same level.
“Freshening things up a bit, bringing in a few new players and giving them an opportunity, will be key to how far England go in the next tournament and during the World Cup.”
Heading into the final weekend of the 2018 Championship…
— NatWest 6 Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 12, 2018
Moody believes Jones missed an opportunity to rotate during the November internationals.
“I think Eddie Jones should have experimented with a few different combinations during the autumn when he had the chance,” Moody added. “Maybe having given Jamie George an opportunity, then tried out a different captain, it would have given Dylan [Hartley] a bit of a break and he’d be fresher coming into this tournament.
“I think in the back row the balance is still missing. I don’t think having three second rows is beneficial to a team that wants to play fast, exciting rugby – as good a six that Courtney Lawes is, he’s a world-class second row and that’s where he should be playing.
“If that means you have to have another quality player on the bench, that’s enormously exciting for the team when that starting player has done all he can and you have another quality player coming off the bench.
“But definitely in the back row there’s a balance that needs looking at.”
Henry Slade, Alec Hepburn and Nick Isiekwe were released back to their clubs by Jones on Tuesday, with a further reduced squad to be announced on Wednesday.
Lewis Moody is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is celebrating its Testimonial Season, with 10 years supporting grassroots rugby in the UK. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal
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