Boss Eddie Jones says England will be looking to “adapt and evolve” their gameplan during the Six Nations.
England enjoyed a fruitful end to 2020, winning both last year’s Championship and the Autumn Nations Cup.
But they rarely deviated from a pragmatic style, which Jones has attributed to weather conditions and the way the game is refereed.
“Maybe we haven’t played as well as we could have – and we want to play better,” Jones said.
“Our goal in the Six Nations is to play better rugby. It doesn’t matter how many times you kick the ball, it’s the quality of rugby you play.”
England start the defence of their title against Scotland at Twickenham on 6 February.
The Scots are looking for a first victory in London since 1983, but came away with a staggering 38-38 draw on their last visit in 2019.
In an in-depth interview on the latest Rugby Union Weekly podcast, Jones added: “I tried to explain to the media why we were playing like we did, and people had judgment on it, which is great, because the more people who talk about rugby the better it is. We love it, we love people talking about different styles.
“We don’t say: ‘we are going to play like this’. We want to play good, effective rugby. And effective rugby is getting the ball to the other end of the field and scoring points. That is the currency we play by.
“If we can do it by running and passing and being attractive, then we want to do that. If we can do it by kicking, we will do it that way.
“So we are always looking to adapt and evolve our game. And the game you play is dependent on the opposition and the referee.”
‘You can’t coach instinct’
In a bid to give England more attacking options, Jones has brought the livewire Bristol scrum-half Harry Randall and Wasps’ dynamic wing-turned-centre Paolo Odogwu into his 28-man squad.
“Quoting [former Australia coach] Bob Dwyer, you are always looking for players with the things you can’t coach. And the things you can’t coach are instinct and intuition,” Jones explained.
The inclusion of the diminutive Randall is a break from convention, with Jones usually preferring scrum-halves with a more prosaic approach, such as cap centurion Ben Youngs and Gloucester’s Willi Heinz, the two number nines he took to the 2019 World Cup.
But Jones says Randall has been on his radar for a while and has “kicked on” this season at Ashton Gate.
“He does things ahead of the game, which I like, and he backs himself. He’s fast and he’s tough and he’s cheeky,” he said.
‘Revitalising the squad’
Both Randall and Odogwu are only 23, with Jones continuing to adjust the age profile of his squad before the World Cup in France in 2023.
“We like the way we are revitalising the squad, slowly and surely. We brought through nine new caps last year and as you can see the age profile of the squad is pretty good,” he continued.
“We will continue to do that building up to the World Cup in France in 2023. There is a bit of a formula in creating a World Cup squad.
“You have got to win at the start of the four years, as that is currency and money in the bank. And then you have to work out what the profile of your squad needs to be.
“You need a squad at the World Cup that is an average age of about 28, and average caps of about 40.
“We think we are in a reasonable position.”