Jones: I want Cokanasiga to play 100 Tests for England

Joe Cokanasiga is bound for the World Cup after Eddie Jones claimed the giant wing is capable of becoming a Test centurion despite his shock exclusion from England’s clash with Scotland.

Cokanasiga has even been overlooked for the bench after losing his place on the right wing for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations finale at Twickenham to Jack Nowell, who has recovered from a shoulder stinger injury.

Only five days earlier the 18-stones Bath battering ram was named man for the match for swatting aside Italian defenders with ease in a performance that Sir Clive Woodward declared evoked memories of Jonah Lomu.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Cokanasiga impressed against Italy but will not face Scotland this weekend (Gareth Fuller/PA)</figcaption>
Cokanasiga impressed against Italy but will not face Scotland this weekend (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Jones has a schedule based on the summer’s four World Cup warm-up Tests that will develop the 21-year-old in time for Japan 2019, but is also wary of the hype generated by his marauding display.

“With young players, particularly in this environment, you’ve got to look after them,” England’s head coach said.

“I want him to play 100 Tests, I don’t want him to just play 10 Tests. We’ve got a good plan in place for him. He’ll be ready by the World Cup.

“Sometimes you push young guys forward and sometimes you’ve got to pull them back.

“It’s about taking a measured approach at the start of their career, letting them develop their game and exposing them to the right games. That’s when you get a good player and that’s what we’re doing with him.

“I don’t need to fast-track him. I’ve got him on the right track. There’s only one track – the right track.

“You’ve got to keep players’ feet on the ground. When they’re blown up to be something they’re not, it’s difficult for them, so that’s part of it.

I want him to play 100 Tests, I don't want him to just play 10 Tests. We've got a good plan in place for him. He'll be ready by the World Cup.

“And part of it is getting them the right amount of Tests to get the required level of confidence to play well in the bigger games.

“He’s a very good kid, but anyone’s head can be turned. I recall (as Australia coach) looking after guys like Matt Giteau and George Smith in a similar way.

“You expose them, bring them back, expose them, bring them back. And when they’re ready to go, you let ’em go.”

England captain Owen Farrell points to Jones’ success in developing Maro Itoje as evidence of his sound judgement.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Jones has helped develop Maro Itoje, pictured, with England  (Paul Harding/PA)</figcaption>
Jones has helped develop Maro Itoje, pictured, with England  (Paul Harding/PA)

“There is proper reasoning behind it. I remember he did it a little bit with Maro and he turned out all right,” he said.

“I’m sure Joe won’t be sad. He’s always getting beaten at pool and darts in the team room and but still always got a massive smile on his face!”

Jones has reverted to his first-choice midfield with Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade paired in the centres outside Farrell, resulting in Ben Te’o’s demotion to the bench as threequarter cover.

In total there are four changes in personnel to the XV that battered Italy 57-14 at Twickenham with Ben Moon restored at loosehead prop ahead of Ellis Genge and Mark Wilson displacing Brad Shields at blindside flanker.

Ben Youngs will be making his 85th England appearance to surpass the national record for a scrum-half held by Danny Care.

The showdown with Scotland could be Jones’ final Six Nations match with his future beyond the World Cup uncertain.

“Well that’s not for me to decide. Other people decide that. I don’t know,” Jones said.

“The only thing I know is that we have had a great week this week and we are absolutely excited by the prospect of us finishing well.”

- Press Association

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