Jonathan Joseph admits he is relishing his ongoing duel with fellow outside centre Ben Te’o for an England starting berth as Eddie Jones’ side prepare for their Six Nations meeting with Scotland.
Both players offer different traits for Jones and Joseph’s defensive qualities and quick feet saw him chosen for the tense Twickenham victory against Wales in round two while Te’o’s ball-carrying strength saw him start against Italy on the opening weekend.
Jones, who is seeking to lead England to a third consecutive Six Nations crown, will announce his starting XV on Thursday morning for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield – with Owen Farrell’s midfield partner of particular interest.
With the George Ford and Farrell axis becoming a mainstay of Jones’ success, Joseph is aware his chance of selection often depends on the tactical approach the Australian coach adopts.
“The competition is always right up there and it’s been good with Ben. We both offer slightly different things, but it’s healthy,” Joseph said.
“We’re friends off the field but at the same time competing on it. It depends on each player, but I’m one who is never quite sure if he’s playing until the team has been named.
“Every player wants to play, that’s no secret. If Eddie has a reason why you might not be involved, you have to take that on board.
“It might be constructive criticism, it might be that he wants to look at another combination. You have to put your trust in him, he’s your coach and his word is final.”
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Joseph is confident England can continue to “push the boundaries” on a defensive front and expects a fierce battle against a Scotland side that recovered from a heavy opening defeat to Wales to record a battling success against France.
“We want to take our defence to a whole new level. We’re happy with where we are and will keep looking to push the boundaries,” Joseph added.
“They’re playing England, so it’ll be the Scotland that beat France who will turn up. The crowd will be on our backs, but we’re used to it now and almost thrive off it.”
Te’o made his return to competitive rugby, after four months out with an ankle sprain, in the convincing victory over Italy and admits he enjoys his responsibilities as a powerful ball carrier.
“I’d like to say there’s a bit more to my game than carrying but let’s be real, that’s a strong part of my game. There’s no shying away from that. I do enjoy doing it,” the rugby league convert said.
“You’re always working on different things but if you get given a job of go-forward that’s going to help the team, then that’s what I’ve gotta do. I don’t mind that.”