Eddie Jones: England coach must back youth - Jeremy Guscott

Joe Launchbury Maro Itoje
Joe Launchbury and Maro Itoje in training with England last summer
RBS Six Nations
Dates: Saturday, 6 February - Saturday, 19 March
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After the hoop-la around his appointment as England's first foreign head coach, Eddie Jones has got down to work by naming the 33-man squad for the forthcoming Six Nations.

The Australian has made a raft of changes, ushering in a new era with a fresh-faced group of players and some high-profile absentees.

Former England and British Lions centre Jeremy Guscott gives his view...

A selection to feel excited about

It's a bold selection from Eddie Jones. It is a group of players that you have to be enthusiastic about.

If you take the next World Cup in 2019 as the target, then there is a really good blend of experience and youth.

Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola will have 60, 70, 80 caps by then.

Now is the right time for the likes of Northampton prop Paul Hill, versatile Saracens forward Maro Itoje and Harlequins flanker Jack Clifford to graduate from England's successful age-grade sides.

Jack Clifford Harlequins
Harlequins flanker Jack Clifford breaks through the Calvisano defence

The intrigue is whether Jones, having picked seven uncapped players in a squad of 33, will be similarly revolutionary when it comes to naming his first starting XV against Scotland on 6 February.

Will he drip-feed the youngsters in so that they can find their way in international rugby alongside some more experienced hands?

Or will he harness the enthusiasm and momentum behind his appointment and trust this young generation to learn on the job alongside each other in the white heat of a Six Nations campaign?

I would not be surprised if he puts a lot of these young guys straight in to face Scotland.

They are young and inexperienced, but they have no laurels to rest on and every incentive to relish this challenge and grab it with both hands.

Stuart Lancaster made a similar statement of intent with his first squad selection when he took over from Martin Johnson. For all the excitement, there has to be a change in performance after the disappointing and disjointed World Cup campaign.

Beaumont the joker in the pack

Sale number eight Josh Beaumont is the selection that has come from furthest left-field.

He is something different to what England have had in the past.

Josh Beaumont
Number eight Josh Beaumont runs in a try for England against Barbarians at Twickenham

Previous number eights - Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola - have been lifters in the line-out and heavy artillery in the loose.

By contrast, Josh is one of Sale's big providers in the line-out and a rangy athletic player around the park. He has a huge wingspan which give him options of a big hand-off and offloads from contact.

Elsewhere in the back row, it looks like Clifford will start at seven against Scotland.

The 22-year does not strike me as the sort of openside flanker who will be the first man over the ball at the breakdown like Matt Kvesic or Will Fraser - who are not even in the squad - would be.

Jones will have to prove that he can develop Clifford into an all-conquering, omnipresent fetcher, as David Pocock has proved to be for Australia.

Jones has done it before, helping turn George Smith from raw potential into an Australia great during his stint as Wallabies coach.

Repeating the trick with Clifford would be very welcome.

Hartley selection a red herring

Leicester coach Richard Cockerill - a former England hooker himself - recently said that Tom Youngs should not just fill the England number two shirt but also be the "first name on the team sheet".

So the omission of Youngs - and the inclusion of his controversial rival Dylan Hartley - is likely to attract plenty of headlines.

Dylan Hartley
Hooker Dylan Hartley may benefit from Tom Youngs' omission but Jones could opt for youth

However, I think that the selection of hookers Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie is more of a clue as to how Jones wants England to play.

Hartley is a proven leader at Northampton and his throwing-in and scrummaging are particularly good.

In the loose, though, I would question whether he is as explosive, impactful and dynamic as the other two.

For me, George, who hits big in defence and attack, would be my pick, but Jones may decide that Hartley's leadership is needed, especially if it is generally a young line-up.

Pick two, any two, but just two

England's midfield has been highlighted as a problem area by many of the team's critics, but the half-back combination has been just as problematic.

Both positions are ultra-competitive, with highly-talented players competing for a start. But under Lancaster there has not been a consistency of selection at nine and 10.

Ben Youngs, Danny Care, Richard Wigglesworth and Lee Dickson have all had a go at nine. George Ford and Owen Farrell have shared fly-half duties.

Farrell has added a running dimension to his game that was not there last season, while Youngs, at his very best, is the most rounded option at nine.

I don't envy his choice, but whichever combination Jones goes with has to be given a chance to develop.

Recalled Ashton has to remember his strengths

His swallow-dive celebration symbolised some of the highpoints of Lancaster's regime, but Chris Ashton has only played two Tests for England in the last two years after a dip in form.

He has not shot the lights out for Saracens this season - he has scored a modest two tries in eight Premiership appearances - but there is no better supporter of a break.

His intelligent lines and pace help convert an opening into five points.

Chris Ashton Saracens
A characteristic flying leap from Saracens wing Chris Ashton

He is naturally enthusiastic, but he has to be smart and know his strengths and where he is most effective.

He is not a jinker and a stepper. He cannot evade two defenders on a narrow blind side and make something out of nothing. He is of most use with those supporting lines.

Wingers Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson are the men in possession, though. They would rightly be a bit peeved if a recalled Ashton overtook them in the pecking order, given their form.

Jeremy Guscott was speaking to BBC Sport's Mike Henson

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