LONDON (Reuters) - England coach Eddie Jones said he was happy with the mistakes made during their 48-14 win over Samoa on Saturday as he had a close look at another crop of hopefuls as he builds his squad depth two years out from the World Cup.
England got off to a flier with tries by Mike Brown, Alex Lozowski and Charlie Ewels but lost their way before regaining the initiative as four more in the last 20 minutes by Elliot Daly (two), Henry Slade and Semesa Rokoduguni completed their highest score in eight wins over the islanders.
“I’m really happy with it, we had a number of players playing their first big test, some struggled and some did well,” Jones told reporters.
“Some players will be pleased and some disappointed. There’s lots to work with and it’s important now that they go away and look at what they need to improve and then show their desire to be part of a world cup winning side.
“We started well and thought it would be easy, but like all island teams, they kept coming and it took us until maybe the 55th to realise we had to work harder. When we did that we played really well.”
As always, Jones had half an eye on the 2019 World Cup and having rested some of his regular starters, he said he was not only unconcerned by some of the problems on Saturday but pleased by them.
“I would have been disappointed if some of them didn’t struggle,” he said. “We need to find out now what they struggle to do and have time to fix it – we don’t want to be finding it out in the 60th minute of the game against Tonga in Japan (England’s opening World Cup match).
“It was the sort of game we needed to play after Australia; against a team you’re expected to beat by a big score, so the mindset of that is something you get by experience.”
Saturday’s success followed a “grindathon” victory over Argentina and a record win, again courtesy of a late surge, over Australia to take Jones’s England record to 22 wins from 23 games.
“It’s been a positive autumn and a good year, we’re moving in the right direction,” Jones said.
The Australian added that it was “pretty obvious” who his first-choice 23 are but that there is now a big group knocking on the door of the World Cup squad.
“We’ve got great competition,” he said. “We’ve given 12 new caps this year, increased the depth of the squad and got people competing for every position.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Toby Davis