Monday 23 September 2019

Eddie Jones stirs the pot ahead of All Blacks clash with 'Spice Girls' jibe over pre-match haka

Eddie Jones. Photo: Reuters
Eddie Jones. Photo: Reuters

Duncan Bech

Eddie Jones will pay little attention when New Zealand perform the Haka on Saturday - joking that he would not notice if the Spice Girls were singing instead.

England face Steve Hansen's world champions for the first time in four years in the second Quilter International of the autumn.

Previous All Blacks renditions of their customary Maori challenge at Twickenham have been met with cries of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' from home fans, but the exchange will pass Jones by.

"At that stage of the game, they could be playing the Spice Girls and I wouldn't know what's being played," Jones said.

"They're making a comeback aren't they, the Spice Girls? Maybe they could sing at that time. It's got no relevance to me at all."

Jones has given Chris Ashton his first England start for four years as one of three changes for Saturday's Test against New Zealand at Twickenham.

Ashton lines up on the right wing in place of Jack Nowell after impressing as a substitute in the 12-11 victory over South Africa which opened the Quilter Internationals.

Nowell drops to the bench but there is no place for Manu Tuilagi despite his recovery from the groin strain which ruled him out against the Springboks.

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The two other changes see Ben Moon come in for Alec Hepburn at loosehead prop and Sam Underhill replaces Tom Curry, who has been ruled out of the remainder of the autumn by an ankle injury.

Courtney Lawes returns to the bench after overcoming a lower back problem, forcing Zach Mercer out of the matchday 23.

Owen Farrell co-captains the team alongside Dylan Hartley and needs only one more point to reach 700 for England.

England face New Zealand for the first time in four years and have been installed as heavy underdogs against the world champions.

"The expectation for Saturday is no different to any other Test match," Eddie Jones said.

"We want to be at our best, better than we were in the previous Test match and we want to play with pride and passion which ignites the fan.

"It's been a good week, the players have recovered well, trained well on Tuesday, exceptionally well on Wednesday and we look forward to the challenge of taking on New Zealand on Saturday."

England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (cc), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Brad Shields, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dylan Hartley (cc), 1 Ben Moon

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell

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