England 'desperate' to continue upward curve with series victory
Eddie Jones insists the moment has come for England to “grow or shrink” as they attempt to build an unassailable lead in their Test series against Australia.
Victory at AAMI Park today will propel the Grand Slam champions to second in the world rankings and complete the perfect start to Eddie Jones’ reign as head coach.
England have yet to post a series triumph against one of the southern hemisphere giants since summer tours comprising of three Tests were introduced in 2012, but they now stand on the brink of carving out a piece of history.
Jones knows that by humbling the Wallabies, his tourists will have taken a significant step towards becoming a genuine force in the game en route to the ultimate goal of winning the 2019 World Cup.
“Australia are desperate to win, we’re desperate to win, and this is a game where players either grow or shrink,” Jones said. “The opportunity to create history will help us and so will the rivalry between countries.
“Being the first side ever to win a series in Australia is a great motivation as well because if you do that you’re on the walls of Twickenham forever. I know we’re going to step up. I know this team is going to get better and this is an opportunity to do that.”
From the moment Australia had been humbled 39-28 at Suncorp Stadium, Jones set about ensuring his players did not bask in the glory of one of the great results in Red Rose history.
His message that the performance was unsatisfactory was a reminder that the job is only half done with the Wallabies, who were playing their first game since last autumn’s World Cup final, expected to be a more potent force in the second Test.
“There have been no signs of complacency this week, the players have been pretty good. The senior players have been outstanding,” Jones said. “We are respectful that Australia are a wounded animal and they’re going to come hard at us, but we’ve had a good preparation and we’re in a good spot to play well.
“The first 20 minutes are going to be instrumental. We know we have to get that 20 minutes right, which we didn’t do last week,” Jones added. “Defence intensity has to be high because Australia are going to be running from everywhere.”
Michael Cheika has stated that England were “niggly” in the first Test with elbows, shoulders and shoves evident when play stopped and Australia’s coach has devised a plan to combat any provocation.
“We are a physical team. That’s Michael’s opinion and he’s quite entitled to it,” Jones said. “We’ve been respectful about them, the way they play the game and the way they conduct themselves and we’ll continue to do that.”
Australia v England, Live, Sky Sports 1, 11.00pm