Friday 24 January 2020

Jones: We would still beat Ireland six games in 10

England head coach Eddie Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones

Mick Cleary

England head coach Eddie Jones insists that the Dublin defeat will leave "no scar at all" and that if his team were to play Ireland another 10 times, they would win six of them.

The day after the squad broke camp for the first time in eight weeks, Jones was also quick to defend his captain Dylan Hartley from any assertion that he might be the first significant change as the team look to move on from their first loss in 19 matches under Jones.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has suggested that Hartley is in danger of not making the cut for the tour to New Zealand. Jones would not be drawn on any specific Lions consideration but it is clear he backs Hartley to lead England for the rest of the calendar year.

"Dylan does a super job for us and there is no reason why he won't continue to do a super job," said Jones. "It is like when Mike Brearley captained the England cricket team. Everyone questioned him, then he won the Ashes (in 1981) and no one questioned him. Dylan is an outstanding captain.

"One game doesn't affect our perception of people or of the team. One game doesn't change our plan (for the 2019 Rugby World Cup). It is too early (for older players to be discarded). Did you think we would never get defeated? There is no scar there at all. It is great for us, not great to lose, but it is a great learning experience.

"These sort of things harden you because you learn from them and don't want them to happen again.

"If we play them another 10 times, how many times do you reckon we'd win? I reckon we'd win at least six of them."

Read more: Ireland played 'above themselves' and England didn't, says Jones

Jones is confident his project is on course and new targets are now being considered. "The great thing is that we have won back-to-back Six Nations but no one has ever won three-in-a-row," said Jones. "So we are still in a position where we could create a record in the Six Nations. It defines something no one has ever done. Next year is going to be even tougher than this was, and it was tough.

"You can always be caught on the day by a side when everything goes right for them. That is what happened with Ireland. They played beautifully, great game plan, executed well. The conditions were almost perfect (for them), the next day the sun came out. Everything was in place and they were too good. We had 43pc possession and 45 per cent quality line-out ball. That's the end of the game.

"I don't think I gave the team the right environment to prepare well, the absolute right mindset. I'll have to improve that for the future. But back-to-back titles is a fine achievement. We have improved the depth of our squad and, if by the end of 2017 we have improved that depth even more, then I will look back on 2017 as a successful year." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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