Dan Cole and Joe Launchbury facing fight for World Cup spots as Eddie Jones prepares to name his squad
- Eddie Jones will name his England World Cup squad on Monday
- Joe Launchbury and Dan Cole know that their experience offers no immunity
- Cole is vying with Harry Williams to be second choice at tighthead
- Wasps lock Launchbury’s place is under threat from Charlie Ewels of Bath
Joe Launchbury and Dan Cole face a weekend of tension before England’s World Cup squad is named on Monday — knowing their experience offers no immunity amid a cull of veterans.
Coaches tend to compile squads awash with caps for the global showpiece, but Eddie Jones is going in the opposite direction and very few of his established men will feel safe.
Leicester prop Cole has 85 caps, but Kyle Sinckler has usurped him at tighthead and he is vying with Harry Williams to be second choice.
Dan Cole faces a weekend of tension before England’s World Cup squad is named on Monday
Wasps lock Launchbury has made 58 England appearances, but Sportsmail has learned his place in the 31-man group is by no means assured, with Charlie Ewels of Bath in contention.
England have been shedding experience at a rapid rate. If recent captain Dylan Hartley does not reappear after his drawn-out recovery from knee surgery, that will be 97 caps lost. Danny Care has 84, but the Harlequins scrum-half is out of favour. Also gone are James Haskell (77), Mike Brown (72) and Chris Robshaw (66).
If Cole and Launchbury miss out on Monday, England will have lost or jettisoned players with a combined 542 caps. They will be going into the World Cup without the men who have made the most starts under Jones at hooker, tighthead, lock, blindside and openside flanker, and full-back.
The head coach has spoken of how his selection plans have shifted away from the initial, more orthodox approach.
Wasps lock Joe Launchbury’s (top) place is under threat ahead of the global showpiece
In an interview with Sky Sports, when asked about the lack of caps in the likely squad to go to Japan, Jones said: ‘There’s not much you can do about that. There wasn’t much I could do about it four years ago, because guys like Tom Curry weren’t around then.
‘I planned to have a more experienced team, without a doubt, but some players have fallen by the wayside — for whatever reason — who were pencilled into the team. We’ve found other, younger players who we think can contribute more.’
These rookies continue to be integrated. Sportsmail understands that giant Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga is certain to be in the squad after his late surge into contention.
Later still have come Bath’s Ruaridh McConnochie and Northampton flanker Lewis Ludlam. Both are set to be included on Friday in the 23-man squad to face Wales at Twickenham on Sunday, and both could make the cut next week as cover for the injured Jack Nowell and Brad Shields.
Eddie Jones is concentrating less on experience and few of his established men will feel safe
Cole was asked what it would mean to be picked for a third World Cup and said: ‘I would love to. I’m not going to get another one. You want to be successful with England.
‘Seeing how this team have evolved since 2015, you want to see it through. If my part is to push the team as hard as I can and get them best prepared for Japan, that’s my part. You want to do that because you want England to win the World Cup.’
Launchbury acknowledged how the selection twists and turns have created a healthy edge within the camp, adding: ‘You understand if you don’t train well or have a bad run of form, you’ll probably find yourself out of the team. It’s the pinnacle of our careers. I’d love another stab at it.’
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