Eddie Jones wants Ellis Genge to stay the wrong side of the tracks while viewing the firebrand prop as a candidate for a leadership role with England.
Jones has named a youth-packed provisional training squad containing 21 uncapped players as preparations begin for a summer series consisting of an ‘A’ international against Scotland ‘A’ and Tests against the USA and Canada.
Genge’s 28 caps make him the most experienced among the 34 who will gather at The Lensbury on Monday and with England in search of a new captain in the absence of their seasoned campaigners, the 26-year-old has been identified as a contender.
Coming from the tough Knowle West district of Bristol, the combative loosehead prop has forged an unconventional path into the Test arena to become a role model for aspiring players from working-class backgrounds.
And to Jones’ satisfaction, since being overlooked for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa he has produced a series of forceful displays including in Leicester’s highly-charged defeat by Bristol last weekend.
“Ellis will tell you that he is from the wrong side of the tracks and we’re quite happy for him to stay on the wrong side of them,” Jones said.
“But what he will also tell you is the power of learning self-discipline and that to be a hard-running prop like he is, he needs not just to satisfy his needs, but also to know what the team needs.
“I thought the way he handled that Bristol situation was absolutely outstanding. It was his old club and he put his side in a position to win the game.
“And whether, rightly or wrongly, it was taken away from him, he handled it wonderfully.
“Can he take a formal leadership role? There’s no reason why he can’t, whether that’s in the future, or now.”
With Owen Farrell touring with the Lions and George Ford rested for the summer, Jones will appoint a captain who will be able to relate to such a young squad.
“We have got a Generation Z that think and feel and they want to be empowered and have their say, so the role of the captain has got to be to meet the demands of his players,” Jones said.
“And for this tour we are going to make sure that we have the right leadership team or group in place. We have some ideas but we’ll have to flesh them out when the players come in.”