Saturday 20 July 2019

Jones warns of tackle risks for his young England pack

England head coach Eddie Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones

Jack De Menezes

Eddie Jones has warned his England players that the new interpretation of dangerous tackles means they are no longer protected from the danger of red cards, ahead of what is certain to be a physical war at Twickenham today.

England face South Africa in the first of their four November internationals facing a huge challenge in the form of a Springbok pack that boasts 128 international caps more than the young England eight Jones has been forced to pick. Beyond sending home the No 8 Ben Morgan, whose 31 international caps all came before Jones took the top job at Twickenham, Jones had little to choose from in terms of experience after losing the likes of Mako and Billy Vunipola to injury, along with long-serving forwards Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes and Chris Robshaw.

With nearly 400 caps unavailable, England risk being physically dominated by a fearsome Springbok pack that has Eben Etzebeth and Malcolm Marx back in the mix, having both missed the summer series victory over Jones' side.

In response, England know they will have to fight fire with fire, with the Australian admitting that they will need to not only match the intensity of the South Africans but surpass it to stand a chance.

That could well lead to a few tasty challenges that gain the attention of the match officials and, following the spate of red cards this season for dangerous tackles that make contact with the head, Jones believes such decisions will inevitably end up deciding Test matches this month.

"The law doesn't look after you if you tackle high, it's just the way it is," Jones said. "We haven't spent that much time on it and we don't intend to because the players just have to learn it's a new game now. I was involved in the original committee about the tackle height, and we need to make the game safer.

"Everyone said when they brought in outlawing the tip-tackle that it would be a horrific situation. Within six months no one talks about a tip tackle now, do they?

"It's out of the game, it's a safer game for the players and it's the same thing that will happen with the tackle law. Personally, I'm 100pc supportive of it to make the game safer. There will be an adjustment period that is always difficult".

Despite his obvious concerns over such decisions impacting an England Test result over the next four weeks, Jones spent little to no time during the eight-day training camp in Portugal addressing the tackling techniques of his players.

Jones intends to discuss how the new interpretations are being implemented by officials at a meeting next Wednesday, but today's game falls outside of the designated Test window, meaning that his side head into something of an unknown.

Meanwhile, Chris Ashton ends his four-year exile from the England set-up after Manu Tuilagi suffered a minor groin strain during training yesterday, ruling him out and paving the way for Sale man's return. (© Independent News Service)

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