Eddie Jones has held Cristiano Ronaldo up as the example to follow for England’s bright young things as the head coach sets about unearthing players capable of taking leading roles at the 2023 World Cup.
Jones has selected 22 uncapped players in a provisional squad for this summer’s fixtures with training getting under way this week in Teddington. Players from the four Premiership semi-finalists are still to be added before the Tests against USA and Canada, but with 12 senior stars away with the British & Irish Lions – and several more rested – Jones is ready to give a number of youngsters their shot.
He has previously cited the example of Tom Curry – who made his debut four years ago in Argentina, aged 18 – and the England assistant coach Matt Proudfoot revealed how Jones has highlighted Ronaldo’s work ethic as something from which to take inspiration. The 36-year-old forward scored twice for Portugal against Hungary at Euro 2020 on Monday, becoming the highest scorer in the competition’s history and moving to within three of the all-time record in international football. Ronaldo – a renowned health fanatic – has also hit the headlines for removing two Coca-Cola bottles from view during a press conference, instead imploring his audience to drink water.
“Eddie used the great example of Ronaldo, where he is and where he came from,” said Proudfoot. “He’s a 36-year-old and the world’s best footballer. Look where he’s come from, it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, it’s what you put in every day to be the best you can be. You’re defining the length and extent of your career and it’s my role to do whatever I can to help the player achieve those goals. Not achieve the preconceived idea I’ve got in my head. Our message to the young players is to grow and to be as good as they can be and use this opportunity.”