4 Best Captaincy Options for England Coach Eddie Jones

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 3, 2015

4 Best Captaincy Options for England Coach Eddie Jones

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    One of Eddie Jones' first tasks as England coach is establishing a chain of order he believes can lead the team to glory, and for some, that means Chris Robshaw could lose his place as captain of the national team.

    Former England centre Will Greenwood recently stated, per Sky Sports, that he expects to see a change of armband-wearer under the first foreign coach the Red Rose has appointed.

    Both old names and new are being mentioned as candidates for the position, which demands a certain set of criteria that very few players actually possess.

    We've dissected the top four candidates to become England captain under Jones, who has just a few months remaining until the Six Nations brings his first taste of major competition in the role.

Honourable Mentions

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    Maro Itoje

    Yet to even make his senior debut for England, Saracens upstart Maro Itoje is already earning calls to become international captain in what would truly represent the dawn of a new age at Twickenham.

    It's highly unlikely the 21-year-old will land the position given his lack of experience at Test level, but one can expect to see the lock-cum-flanker trotting out for his first cap during the Six Nations. 

    Joe Marler

    Harlequins figurehead Joe Marler may have a reputation as a joker, but the prop has a business side to his personality that wouldn't be afraid to spell out harsh words to team-mates when needed.

    Marler took over from Robshaw as Quins captain for the 2014-15 season, and although form was patchy at times during that campaign, he's bound to have gleaned invaluable knowledge from the process.

    Brad Barritt

    The only back to be mentioned as a possibility on our list, fit-again centre Brad Barritt could be a useful leader figure if his place in the team was assured.

    However, midfield remains one of the greyest areas in terms of who's likely to start moving ahead, meaning the Saracens bulldozer couldn't be seen as the undroppable icon his coach is seeking.

1. Joe Launchbury

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    Arguably the strongest candidate to succeed Robshaw as captain should the Harlequins man stand down, second-row star Joe Launchbury has already been a leader without the title in his England career.

    Jones is somewhat blessed in the lock department, but Launchbury can consider himself among the surefire starters when fully fit, a signal of the 24-year-old's ability.

    The new Red Rose coach need only look to the player's form at Wasps this season, which has led club helmsman Dai Young to insist Launchbury can take over the armband at Test level, per Sky Sports:

    I think he would make a great England captain. I would back him 100 per cent. He is certainly somebody the players would get right behind. 

    I see real leadership skills in Joe and you've got four years to build it. That's important. You pick your captain now and build his experience as a captain, building that trust from coach to captain.

    One of the greatest captains England has ever had, Martin Johnson, didn't speak for the sake of it. When he spoke people listened. I think Joe would be very similar.

    Launchbury boasts a lot of the qualities fans tend to find appealing in a captain; he plays with intelligence and never-ending graft, and he possesses that rare sheen of a nice guy who hides a more sinister, on-pitch edge.

    One can add humility to that list, too, after Launchbury was quoted by the Press Association as saying he was embarrassed by his man-of-the-match award after the World Cup defeat to Australia (h/t the Guardian).

2. Chris Robshaw

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Change might seem like a good thing at the present moment, when wounds are still sore from a dismal World Cup campaign and supporters are demanding the heads of those in the highest positions.

    But perhaps Robshaw was given something of an impossible task in leading this England team to victorya team that, in hindsight, simply wasn't good enough to beat the likes of Wales and Australia.

    Two months is a very short period of time in which to enact widespread change, so it's possible Jones will retain Robshaw as captain for the 2016 Six Nations simply to maintain some familiarity.

    Not to mention Robshaw tends to cop an unfair amount of flak for his work. Granted, a six playing in a seven's shoes isn't ideal practice, but there's rarely a match the flanker doesn't reach double digits in tackles made.

3. Tom Wood

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Northampton Saints star Tom Wood divided opinion after he voiced his willingness to succeed team-mate Robshaw as captain, per the Daily Mail, saying: "We'll cross that bridge if we come to it."

    It was a comment that received mixed reviews, with some appreciating the candid response, while others saw it as undermining his comrade in the wake of a disappointment that was still very fresh.

    Wood has 42 caps to his name and has donned the armband in the past, but his post-World Cup comments are likely to have left his reputation under scrutiny to some Robshaw sympathisers in the camp.

    Therefore, he may be considered something of a tainted option, even though his talent across the flanker positions alone might make him one of the favourites for the captaincy.

4. James Haskell

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Yet another back-rower vying for the lead position is James Haskell, who is starting to be considered one of the first names on some teamsheets after a resurgence in his career under Dai Young at Wasps.

    Haskell would come full-circle if he were to obtain the captaincy at the age of 30, eight years after the outspoken back-rower made his England debut with patches of controversy in between.

    Haskell is back producing his best rugby and was the most experienced player in England's World Cup squad with 62 caps.

    That's despite the fact he's had spells playing in New Zealand, France and Japan, ventures that have undoubtedly moulded him into a more mature player.

    Above all, Haskell really just loves his rugby, and that's sure to be one of the prerequisites Jones is seeking in a captainwith the flanker's quality an added bonus in the deal.

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