'We'll see where wine spills' – Jones to name World Cup squad on Monday
England coach Eddie Jones joked that he would use “red wine” and “advice from his dog” to help decide the World Cup squad he will announce on Monday.
Jones will name his 31-man group for Japan 2019 almost four weeks before World Rugby’s 8 September deadline.
After England’s 33-19 warm-up win over Wales, the 59-year-old said his announcement would “take a lot of the noise away about selection”.
“The coaches will get together and see where the red wine spills,” he added.
“That is the science of it.
“My job is to pick the best 31 for England and I am quite capable of doing that. I have got great assistant coaches and my dog gives me some advice so I think we are in a pretty good place.”
Once the squad has been named, there is still a risk of players getting injured, with England playing three more Tests before the World Cup.
They face Wales in Cardiff on 17 August, before matches against Ireland and Italy.
Flanker Sam Underhill, wing Ruaridh McConnochie and centre Henry Slade were all late withdrawals from Sunday’s starting XV and back row Tom Curry left the pitch in the first half holding his right arm.
But Jones said Curry’s issue was not “too serious” and played down any concern over injuries before Japan.
“We know where the injuries are and we know who is going to be available and who is not,” he explained.
“We will name a very strong squad of 31 on Monday. We want the players to focus on being the tightest and most cohesive England squad ever to have played in a World Cup and we have the opportunity to do that.”
Wales travelled to Twickenham as favourites and with the chance to become world number ones if they avoided defeat.
But the relatively inexperienced side chosen by Jones looked far more energetic than their opponents from the outset, with wing Anthony Watson, scrum-half Willi Heinz and flanker Lewis Ludlam playing themselves into contention.
The England coach insisted he was expecting an even bigger win, but played down the significance of the match when it comes to his final squad selection.
“I wrote down on a bit of paper before the game I thought we would win 33-12,” he said.
“We’ve had a squad of around 36-38 and there’s been a great competitive spirit. Everyone wants to play for England, they know they have a good chance to win the World Cup – today was just a selection day.
“This game was never going to be a ‘be all and end all selection’.”
“A lot of people will be unhappy, but that is the nature of sport,” added number eight Billy Vunipola, who missed the 2017 Lions tour and was injured during England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign.
“It is not always going to go your way. Sometimes that can help you, you can come back in two or three years’ time and I have learned the hard way that things do come in roundabouts.”
BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones:
Eddie Jones is naming his squad this early in a bid to avoid weeks of selection speculation which – he believes – have adversely affected the preparation of England squads in the past.
Most of the 31 picks itself, but there are still some close calls. Jones will probably have to pick all nine front-rowers in camp, with none of his props able to convincingly play both sides of the scrum.
Elsewhere Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola are all certainties if fit, leaving a place for one more second row – surely Joe Launchbury – and then possibly a fifth lock in Charlie Ewels or perhaps the ultimate bolter in Lewis Ludlam, who did his case no harm whatsoever against Wales.
Ludlam looks made for Test rugby, and his energy and attitude could be a trump card in Japan. Then there is Brad Shields, earmarked for a place on the plane for the past year, but now struggling with injury.
In the backline, Jones is likely to roll the dice with just two scrum-halves: Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz, who has impressed in camp with his temperament and made a solid debut against the Welsh, although was curiously replaced early in the second half.
Captain Owen Farrell and George Ford are the two 10s, with Danny Cipriani not in the picture, but Ben Te’o’s indiscretion in Treviso has livened up the midfield debate.
Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade are dead certs, with Jonathan Joseph almost guaranteed, but has Jones lost patience with Te’o? If so, will he opt instead for Piers Francis, whose versatility and solidity compensate for a lack of X-factor?
England are blessed out wide, although Jack Nowell’s recovery from injury remains in the balance.
Either way the Exeter man will be named in the 31, as will Jonny May and Elliot Daly, with Anthony Watson and Joe Cokanasiga also set to be included. Another Bath player, Ruaridh McConnochie, is firmly on the radar, and will play in the warm-ups despite injury keeping him out of Sunday’s win, but it would be a surprise if the former sevens star made the 31.
While every Eddie Jones squad announcement is usually laden with intrigue and curve-balls, there surely won’t be the drama of four years ago, when Stuart Lancaster’s controversial selection of Sam Burgess dominated the agenda. Most of Jones’ big calls – such as leaving out Dylan Hartley, Chris Robshaw and Danny Care – have already been made.