Wednesday 17 January 2018

Jones: England players must be ready 'for North Korea to fire a missile'

England head coach Eddie Jones poses at the Old Mutual Wealth Series England senior squad announcement at the Millennium Bridge in London, England. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images for Old Mutual Wealth
England head coach Eddie Jones poses at the Old Mutual Wealth Series England senior squad announcement at the Millennium Bridge in London, England. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images for Old Mutual Wealth

Mick Cleary

Eddie Jones has pledged to create "chaos in the house" as he prepares his squad to face every eventuality in the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, writes Mick Cleary.

The England head coach signalled that the process had begun with the announcement of his 34-man squad for November's series of Tests.

Jones believes that England are still "20 per cent" behind New Zealand in terms of fitness and adaptability, a deficit that he intends to address with renewed prominence at the week-long training camp that begins in Portugal on Sunday.

There is no place for Lions flanker James Haskell, as back-rowers such as Exeter's uncapped 22-year-old Sam Simmonds, alongside Bath's Sam Underhill and Tom Curry of Sale make their mark.

There is a recall, though, for Sale's Denny Solomona, but he has been issued with a final warning as to the curfew-breaking drinking excess that led to him being turfed out of the training squad in August. All of them can expect to be exposed to a regime tailored to making them deal with the unexpected.

"We want the players to be uncomfortable for the next two years, so that when they get to the World Cup they will be prepared for anything," said Jones.

"Prepared for North Korea to fire a missile, prepared for an earthquake, for bad sushi, for bad refereeing. It doesn't matter what happens, they will be ready for it.

"We need to make the team more uncomfortable, not have everything nice and rosy but a bit of chaos in the house. Every time we come together now it's about building towards the World Cup."

Jones has shaped everything to that end, from the call-up for Portugal of two "apprentice" talents in 18-year-old Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith and 20-year-old Bath back-row forward Zach Mercer, to the short-term hiring of coaching assistance in Jason Ryles from Australian rugby league, Neil Greig from Australian Rules and Toulon's Marc dal Maso. More significant than the presence of new individuals will be the shift in emphasis to World Cup mode, the up-scaling of conditioning programmes, allied to the relentless chasing down of the All Blacks.

"We've got information on other teams that indicates there's a gap of about 20 per cent in certain areas and that's what we've got to breach," said Jones.

"The All Blacks used to look at the World Cup with a view that as they were the No 1 team in the world, they would turn up and win it.

"What they've learned in the last eight years is the process of building towards a World Cup campaign.

"What they have done post the Lions tour has been so clever in terms of being able to expand their depth, to experiment with the way they've played. They've deliberately put themselves under pressure in games to equip themselves better for the World Cup." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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