Saturday 14 December 2019

England coach Eddie Jones in 'Aussie Rules' jibe at Ireland

Eddie Jones has fired the first salvo ahead of the meeting at Twickenham
Eddie Jones has fired the first salvo ahead of the meeting at Twickenham
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Eddie Jones is preparing his England side for a game of 'Aussie Rules' against Ireland next week as he labelled Joe Schmidt's side the 'Hawthorn' of rugby.

Although the Australian refused to criticise Ireland's style of play, he said his team can beat the Six Nations champions if they win the battle in the air.

Under Stuart Lancaster, England suffered under the high ball in Dublin last year, losing out when Robbie Henshaw scored a memorable try from a Conor Murray kick.

Jones has guided his side to wins over Scotland and Italy without suffering any significant injury worries, while Schmidt has seen his troops draw with Wales and lose against France in Paris.

If Ireland, who gathered in Mullingar for a training camp yesterday, are to hold out any hope of retaining their title they must win in London.

"We've got to win the Aussie Rules contest," said Jones.

"That is the first thing we have got to do. They kick 60pc of their possession. If we can win that Aussie Rules battle, we will go a long way to winning the game.

"Ireland are a clever side. They're one of the best-coached sides in world rugby, full stop. They're very resourceful. They've chosen to go in this direction in terms of their style of play and they've won the last two Six Nations titles doing it. Who am I to criticise them?"

Meanwhile, Cian Healy, who could come into contention for the Twickenham clash, has agreed a new three-year deal with the IRFU that will see him remain at Leinster until after the 2019 World Cup.

The 28-year-old loosehead prop has just returned from the latest in a long series of injuries, playing against Zebre on Friday night. He had attracted interest from English side Worcester Warriors, while Toulon have been long-term admirers, but he has opted to remain with his home province.

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