Tuesday 22 May 2018

Jones claims England will not be motivated by revenge

Eddie Jones has had plenty to juggle with England’s injury problems. Photo: Gonzalo Fuenters/Reuters
Eddie Jones has had plenty to juggle with England’s injury problems. Photo: Gonzalo Fuenters/Reuters

Mick Cleary

Eddie Jones has issued a rallying cry ahead of the final game of the 2018 Six Nations against Grand Slam-chasing Ireland by declaring that he has confidence in his squad to turn things around because "these are the best players" who have performed for their country as well as for the Lions.

The head coach rejected the notion that England will be motivated by thoughts of revenge for Saturday's game at Twickenham, looking to do to Ireland as they did to England last season in Dublin, when denying Jones's team back-to-back Grand Slams.

"I have never found revenge to be a positive motivation because I don't think it's a sustainable motivation," said Jones, who disclosed that he is still in the market for adding a specialist attack coach to his management team, although not imminently.

"We are always looking to improve the coaching staff. But the problem at the moment is the breakdown, not the attack.

"The motivation for us is to get better and to play well in front of our home crowd and to satisfy ourselves with our own performance.

"It's not as if we can't play rugby. We know we've got good players as they've played for the Lions and won games for England. When you get a loss, it tests your mental resolve and that's the test we've got to face.

Shaken

"These are the best players. I think we will see a great response from them. It hasn't shaken my belief, no, not at all. "

Jones may yet be without a couple of the 32-man squad who began preparations at their Pennyhill Park base yesterday, with wing Elliot Daly needing a scan on a foot injury.

Hooker Dylan Hartley, who ceded the captaincy to Owen Farrell for the first time in Paris after failing a fitness test on a calf strain, is back in light training and a decision will be made on his availability over the next couple of days. Back-row forwards Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes have already been ruled out.

Jones has the utmost confidence in the potential of his squad, even though he did admit that the failings exposed at the breakdown will not be fixed overnight.

He also acknowledged that the team's self-belief would have taken a knock following back-to-back losses, the first time that has happened in the Six Nations since 2009. It is 12 years since England lost three matches in a row. Jones insists that the squad remain tight-knit and upbeat, even if dented.

"When you lose, you do lose a bit of confidence," said Jones. "I have been involved in teams before (after losses) where you see people kicking stones, where there are conversations in corners. You don't see that with these boys, who are absolutely committed to getting the team out of this.

"We understand we are all in it together, coaches and players. There has been a strong, positive response from the group.

"We saw that on Saturday against France and if you didn't see that, I apologise. We won every stat apart from the scoreboard.

"We dominated possession, won the set-piece, but we didn't win the game. That happens. We have had the rub of the green in the past, probably did so against Australia, and we didn't have the rub of the green against France.

"Every good team goes through this period. It's actually an essential part of developing a great team. The learnings we will get from this, albeit very painful, are absolutely crucial going forward because it is about how we respond."

This is the first time that this England squad have had to deal with sustained criticism. Jones does not sense that there has been any collective downbeat mood in camp as a result of the unfamiliar, negative headlines.

"It affects different people individually," said Jones. "Some people get upset by it. Some people carry it around. Some people's mothers ring them up, some people's wives ring them up.

"My mother rings me up - God bless her soul. It just affects individuals. My mother said 'What's going on?' She hasn't got a great knowledge of rugby. She just gets upset. I don't (get upset) really." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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