Wednesday 18 September 2019

Jones compiles Lions dossier in bid to claim All Black scalp

Gavin Mairs

Eddie Jones has compiled a Lions dossier based on the insight and feedback of his players involved on the tour of New Zealand and the England head coach claims it will "massively" improve his side's chances of beating the All Blacks.

Jones asked the 15 England players in Warren Gatland's squad, who secured the historic drawn Test series against the world champions, to write a detailed review of the 10-match tour.

Jones described the information gathered as "outstanding" and said it would be critical to his side's attempt to make up what he believed was a 20 per cent deficit between his side and the All Blacks in the countdown to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The 20-page dossier more than compensates for his players' physical and mental hangover from the tour, that Jones says he must manage ahead of the three-Test series next month against Argentina, Australia and Samoa.

"I have got a folder this big," said Jones, extending his arms. "We got the players to write reviews of the Lions, from a learning point of view - what they learned about how to prepare for big Tests, what they learned about the Kiwis. Some of it was outstanding. That has been really important.

"It was all about coaching, physical preparation, tactical preparation, the psyche of New Zealand, what they found out, what players they felt could be flustered, how they would get at them. Really good, detailed stuff, the players thought about it a lot. And it will become a dossier that is important for us going forward."

Asked if the information would improve his chances of beating New Zealand - England play Steve Hansen's side at Twickenham in November 2018 - he said: "Massively. It [the Lions tour] is one of the greatest sporting events. Our players have been lucky enough to be part of a successful tour and they've learned a lot, grown a lot. You get some physical downside from it, which we're seeing at the moment. We're getting some mental downside from it. So, we want to ensure that what the Lions have learned, they retain and pass on to the other players."

The English Rugby Football Union unveiled an ambitious strategic plan last Tuesday, including the target of winning the World Cup in Japan and an aspiration to become the strongest team sport in England. Suggestions that it might intensify the pressure on Jones, however, were dismissed by the England coach.

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"Strategic plans are for administrators and I am not an administrator," Jones said. "It doesn't really affect me too much. What I like about it is, it sets a tone for the game and sets a tone for the game wanting to be better, and I love that.

"What Steve Brown (CEO) has cleverly done is set a dream for rugby, and that is fantastic. It has set its dream, set its stall - you want to be as good as you can. There is no harm in failing.

"It is like us going to the World Cup. If we do everything right and we don't win there is no harm in that, as long as you put your best foot forward."


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