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Borthwick reveals chat with Eddie Jones as he's quizzed on England job

By Chris Jones
Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick confer ahead of England's game with Australia in Oita. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images,)

Steve Borthwick has revealed he spoke to sacked Eddie Jones this week but insists his expected elevation to replace his former mentor as England head coach has not disrupted Leicester’s preparations for their Heineken Champions Cup match with Ospreys on Sunday.

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Borthwick, the director of rugby, was happy to pay fulsome tribute to Jones having been his assistant coach with Japan and England but refused to discuss his impending departure from Leicester, however, he confirmed he expected to be in the Tigers’ coaching box for the Cup game with Clermont on December 17.

The former England captain, who led Leicester to the Premiership title last season, is expected to want the majority of the Tigers coaches with him at England but was quick to dismiss suggestions the speculation had been a distraction this week for the club. Borthwick said: “I don’t think anyone can possibly doubt how committed I have been since the minute I walked through this door to give the best I can for this team, and that is my intention again this week to get the performance we want.

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“I spoke to Eddie Jones this week and he is a phenomenal coach and I feel very fortunate and privileged top have worked with him in different places for so many years. I have learnt and continue to learn a huge amount from him. Even when not working in the same coaching team at Leicester Tigers he has been incredibly supportive of myself and my coaching journey.

“We would be here all day if we tried to talk about all the things; the work ethic, desire to learn and never cease to want to be better and improve; the desire to help the players achieve their dreams. What I will talk about, which I don’t hear talked about , is the generosity of the guy. I have seen him help people around the world. He loves the game and is an incredible coach.

“I speak to people at the RFU every week because we have a lot of England players here. Within this team there is no talk about anything but the Ospreys game. There are always things going around the team and your job is to be focussed on what you need to do.

“I have always been upfront with players about anything and everything and this team has all kind of challenges over the last two years and potential obstacles. Every time these players there is anything that could possibly distract from outside they concentrate on the next challenge.”

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Borthwick is wary about the challenge Ospreys will offer in Wales and said: “The Ospreys have the vast majority of the Wales team and has the best scrum in the URC and an international tight five with pace and power in their backs. It will be an incredible contest.”

In a nod to the impact test rugby has on the club game, Borthwick admitted he was resting key players such as Ben Youngs, Julian Montoya and Jasper Wiese because of the impact of the Autumn tests. “It’s not ideal to play international rugby the same time as club rugby with that number of clashes. Sometimes life isn’t ideal and you just have to get on with it.”

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