As the final whistle blew at Twickenham and Australia condemned England to World Cup ignominy the prospect of becoming the new head coach of the England rugby team would have appeared anything but positive, regardless of the fat salary.
Two months on and Eddie Jones probably can’t believe his luck. Why? Because the form of the English clubs domestically and in Europe has given the Australian an unexpected but very welcome problem – the proverbial selection dilemma.
So many English players are on form, as if to prove what they can do after the world cup disaster, that Jones can pick any from two or three per position. Indeed, there are some who would have been a million miles from the England squad but now, on form, demand consideration. Take Thomas Waldrom, for example. If Jones picked his starting XV today based purely on form Thomas the Tank Engine would be packing down at the base of the scrum. Leicester are winning at Munster, Bath and Wasps are playing compelling rugby, Exeter are defying all doubters and Saracens appear to be the best team in Europe. Suddenly there does not appear to be too much wrong with English rugby.
One thing is clear. Jones will be his own man, as his forthcoming appointments of Paul Gustard as his new defence coach and Steve Borthwick as his forwards coach proves. He is here for four years only and in that time he wants to win the world cup and lay down the foundation for English dominance led by English coaches. With that in mind expect some bold selections and big changes in playing personnel.
In the front row Jamie George can expect to have a serious role in the Six Nations. In the second row Maro Itoje can oust Courtney Lawes to form a new, young partnership with Joe Launchbury. In the back row an out and out seven is likely to be picked – take your pick from Will Fraser, Jack Clifford, Matt Kvesic among others – with possibly Dave Ewers filling the blindside role as well. Joe Simpson is pushing hard at nine, Kyle Eastmond at 12 and Elliot Daly at 13 (although it will be hard to oust Joseph).
It should be a new look England with a new look coaching staff encouraged to play the attacking style of rugby that saw the All Blacks and Wallabies reach the final and, indeed, England impress during last year’s Six Nations.
First up is Scotland at Murrayfield in February. A few weeks ago I thought that was a very nasty fixture. Not now. I fancy Jones and England to win the whole tournament. Seriously!