Eddie Jones says character as important as talent when picking England World Cup squad

Eddie Jones says considering a player’s character was equally as important as assessing their talent when he was naming his Rugby World Cup squad.

The England head coach announced his 31-man group for the tournament in Japan on Monday, with Danny Cipriani, Dylan Hartley, Mike Brown and Ben Te’o missing out.

Te’o had been a regular in Jones’ squad when fit, but was dropped from the squad ahead of Sunday’s warm-up match against Wales following reports of an altercation with Brown.

Jones refused to discuss Te’o when facing the media on Monday, but when asked if character and behaviour came into the equation as much as form and talent, he told Sky Sports News: “It always does, particularly in a World Cup.

“You’re away for nine weeks and we’ve already had five weeks together. Those sorts of areas are areas you look at very carefully in the composition of your squad and where the player fits.

“We’re like any family. All families sit around the dinner table and everything looks good, but there’s always a few problems lurking.

“We’re like any team; we’re not perfect. But I want the boys to be great ambassadors for the sport and great ambassadors for England.”

Jones’ World Cup squad has evolved greatly from the side he named in his first Test as England coach against Scotland in 2016, with the likes of Danny Care, Hartley, Chris Robshaw and James Haskell all falling out of favour.

One of the beneficiaries of the evolution of Jones’ squad is flanker Lewis Ludlam, who only made his England debut in Sunday’s 33-19 win over Wales.

Reflecting on his journey into the World Cup squad, Ludlam told Sky Sports News: “It’s an incredible day for me, and obviously there wasn’t a lot of sleep last night as I waited for the selection results today.

“I’m chuffed to be in the squad. It was a bizarre few weeks.”

Ludlam was told as a 15-year-old that he was not the right size to play rugby, but now aged 23, he says his career was shaped by being released at that age.

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