Eddie Jones

A snap Q&A with England head coach Eddie Jones

All the talk will be over for England head coach Eddie Jones when Nigel Owens signals kick off at Stade de France today, but there were plenty of points to discuss in the lead up to the Six Nations.

Here, England head coach Eddie Jones goes into a little more detail about the selections he has made and his own mindset in the wake of losing a Rugby World Cup final, with Nick Cain asking the questions.

EDDIE JONES ON…

…Billy Vunipola

There was a rugby league great, Mal Meninga, who broke his arm four times in two years. Post that two years he played six or seven years, won grand finals and won Test matches for the Kangaroos. The tide will turn for Billy. At the moment it’s tough and he probably feels the whole world is against him, but he’ll be all right.

…Advice to Saracens contingent

Get ready to play against France and then get ready to play against whoever we play after France. All they have got to do is come in and have a great excitement about playing for England. All of that business, that will get sorted out.

…How do you deal with the Saracens issues?

Common sense. Say what you feel. If players are angry about it then say it, get it out on the table. I don’t envisage any problems at all, in fact it is an opportunity for the team to get tighter.

…Pressing the restart button

We came second in the World Cup. We missed out. We didn’t play well in the final. We have a good opportunity to talk about that, learn from it and then go on and be the greatest team that the game of rugby has ever seen.

…His energy source

I love coaching. I have an opportunity to coach a great team that is only going to get better. I’m just excited by it.

…Ben Earl

He’s played exceptionally well for Saracens. He’s got a bit more toughness and rigour about his game. The Saracens coaches have done a great job with him, and I can see he’s going to compete hard for that 7 and possibly play 8.

…If four years is a different mindset to two

I don’t think a contract has anything to do with how you think about the game, or what you aspire to, or how you select.

…World Cup final postscript

Some people will still be hurting, some won’t remember it and will just get on with it. Everyone is different. We’ve got to make sure we learn from it. It was a failure for us in the final. What can we do better? How can we prepare for games like that in the future better? I’ve made mistakes. I don’t think I prepared the side well. Possibly, I didn’t select well, and they are things that every day I go over one way or the other.

…Jacob Umaga

Is it Tana? I’ve picked the wrong one! I like the way he plays the game. He takes the ball flat to the line, he is a strong defensive player and has a nice range of skills.

Jacob Umaga
New dynamic: Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga. Getty Images

…Young apprentice Josh Hodge

Did you see the try he scored – it was like out of one of those E (video) game tries. He beat 15 defenders, then he ran round the touch judge. I saw him play in Argentina last year for the Under-20s. I was really impressed by him. He’s tall, fast, kicks goals from 60 metres. Interesting prospect.

…Elliot Daly’s position

Full back, but he has potential to play wing and centre as well.

…Scrum-half selection

We have got ten days to prepare so we have got two training sessions. I need Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz to train, and if we have a third half- back, it cuts into their training time.

…Contrast between 2016 and 2020

In 2016 we took over a team that was not in a good state. There was desperation to do well. This team has got an enhanced reputation. They’ve played some great rugby over the last four years….some of them are big stars. So it’s a completely different situation. I know you’re laughing about the fact we want to be the greatest team the world’s ever seen, but we want to challenge ourselves.

…How you reinvigorate players

It’s an individual thing. I’ve gone around over the last couple of weeks and met with most of the players, not all of them, to find where they are at. I’ve already had those discussions with them. They wouldn’t be in the squad if they weren’t in the right mindset.

Joe Marler
Still hungry: Prop Joe Marler came out of retirement to make himself available for the World Cup. David Rogers/Getty Images

…Marler carrying on?

Loves it, mate. Loves it. We’ve had a chat.

…Refereeing in the Six Nations

We’ve got no idea how the referees are going to referee the games, which is a concern for me because I felt the World Cup didn’t allow teams to play with enough quick ball. Referees are massively important because we have a contest sport. If we don’t want to have a contest sport, we play rugby league or volleyball.

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