Alun Wyn Jones This is another huge component.
Four years ago Teimana Harrison was removed from an England Test match by Eddie Jones with the game against Australia just half an hour old.
The experience would have broken many and Harrison himself admitted: “It was hard to take. I got real down about it”.
Yet tomorrow at Northampton the Kiwi-born flanker captains Saints in the European Champions Cup – and Jones will be in the stands to watch.
His presence can be explained by the fact World Cup duo Courtney Lawes and Lewis Ludlam are on the team sheet. He might also want to cast an eye over George Furbank and David Ribbans to see what all the fuss is about.
But talk to Saints attack coach Sam Vesty and another name warrants serious consideration ahead of England’s Six Nations squad announcement on Monday week.
“Tei is our absolute… how can I describe it… fantastic player, a real glue for our team,” said Vesty. “He is out there colliding with people, giving everything he’s got with massive intensity.
“Personally I think he puts his hand up (for selection). If Eddie is coming up I can’t think why he wouldn’t be looking at a player like Tei.”
Rewind to 2016 and Jones complained that Harrison lacked consistency in his carrying and defensive game. Anyone who saw the 27-year-old’s display at home to Leinster will know that has long since been addressed.
“When I came into the England team I was pretty naive, I would go out and throw the kitchen sink in the first half,” said the flanker. “I’ve matured a bit, I now try to be a bit smarter around the field and be physical for the whole game rather than just at the start.”
He claims not to use his baptism of fire with England as motivation “any more”, but does admit it scarred him for a while.
“I’d never been in that situation before,” he said. “I kept thinking ‘shit, what could I have done better? Where did I go wrong’?”
Burned by the experience he went home to New Zealand for a month of hunting and fishing to clear his head. The break proved invaluable, convincing him of the imperative of a work-life balance.
“I think time away from rugby is massive,” he said. “Even through the week you’re so immersed in rugby. Rugby is literally your life.
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