‘I am feeling the best I ever felt’: Bath centre Jonathan Joseph sets his sights on an England World Cup spot
- Jonathan Joseph produced a man-of-the-match display as Bath beat Bristol
- Joseph scored the opening try and set up another in a 26-19 win at Twickenham
- He hasn’t played for England in over a year due to a long-term ankle injury
- However, he is back in contention as he continues to regain full fitness with Bath
- His club team-mate Charlie Ewels is also hopeful of England selection at lock
Jonathan Joseph says he feels better than ever as the outside centre continues to stake his claim for a place in Eddie Jones‘ England World Cup squad later this year.
Joseph produced a man-of-the-match display for Bath on Saturday afternoon as they recorded a crucial Gallagher Premiership 26-19 bonus-point win over West Country rivals Bristol in front of 60,152 fans at Twickenham.
The 27-year-old hasn’t featured for his country in over a year, due to long-term ankle injury, but claimed his first try at Twickenham for 18 months with a brilliant step-finish inside the opening two minutes. Just eight minutes later, the overlooked England centre demonstrated his guile with beautiful grubber-kick to set up Jamie Roberts to score Bath’s second try of the afternoon.
Jonathan Joseph (right) has aims to win a spot in England’s World Cup squad this autumn
Joseph scored the opening try in a man-of-the-match display for Bath in a 26-19 win vs Bristol
With Henry Slade and Manu Tuilagi the current frontrunners for the No 13 jersey, Joseph has given Jones a welcome midfield selection headache by declaring himself fully fit ahead of the World Cup this autumn.
‘How I feel in myself is great. Before I got injured I used to always cramp up really badly and, touch wood, I haven’t done that once since I have come back,’ he said post-match.
‘In terms of my physical capabilities I am feeling the best I ever felt. And sharpness wise, I don’t think I am far off at all. Obviously, I know that within myself and it is up to Eddie what he sees and what he perceives to be good or bad, I guess he will let me know.’
Jones is a fan of Joseph and that was evident with his selection to England’s pre-Six Nations training camp in Portugal in January – despite the latter having only played once for Bath on his comeback trail.
Joseph, who has 40 England caps, has started 21 Tests under the Australian and says he took a lot of heart and encouragement from that trip to the Algarve.
‘It was obviously nice to have played 55 minutes of rugby and then for him to call me up to that Portugal trip and then towards the end of the Six Nations, after I had played a few more games, to let me train with the boys and have a shot at playing,’ he reflected.
‘I’m really happy with how that went, I’ve had a really good and honest chat with him – he was very happy with how I trained. I think he quoted: “That’s the best I’ve seen you train in three years, mate” and I was really happy with that. I think for me, I’ve just got to keep pushing hard [in training] every single day and obviously at the weekend as well.’
England head coach Eddie Jones is a big fan of Joseph – having started him in 21 Tests
Meanwhile, Joseph’s Bath and England team-mate Charlie Ewels has revealed what Jones wants him to him work on if he is to be part of the 30-man squad boarding a flight to Japan.
Like Joseph, Ewels faces a plethora of competition in the second row with Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes and George Kruis all vastly experienced at Test level.
‘He’s [Jones] always in contact and we know our goals,’ the 23-year-old, who has 10 England caps, said.
‘Being a second row, the physicality in the loose is obviously a big part of my responsibility for the team and then what I deliver set-piece wise – I’ve just got to keep working at those things.
‘Ultimately my goal is to go to the World Cup and I’d absolutely love to be there but the only way I’m going to do that is by taking things week-to-week and playing really well for Bath. If I start looking too far ahead then I will lose track of things.
‘I’m just trying to work individually on my game week-to-week and just deliver the best performances that I can. I will be able to sleep at night, if I don’t get selected, knowing that I’ve done everything. If I can do that then I will be able to sleep easy but hopefully that should be enough.’
Joseph’s Bath team-mate Charlie Ewels (right) is another England World Cup hopeful
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