Eddie Jones insists England must continue scaling their Everest as he reflects on the off-field bonding that has helped propel his team into genuine World Cup contention.
Ireland were overwhelmed 57-15 at Twickenham on Saturday in a victory that sent records tumbling as a highest number of tries and points scored against their Six Nations rivals also contributed to the greatest winning margin.
Having been involved in four previous World Cups, Jones compares preparation for the tournament to climbing a mountain.
And critical to reaching their current position has been the social events held at a recent training camp in Treviso that may have seen Mike Brown and Ben Te’o lock horns, but was invaluable for others.
“You have ideas in your head but you never know exactly where you need to be because you don’t know where the opposition are,” Jones said.
“If we’re at the bottom of Mount Everest, we’ve got to plan to be at base camp three by now, but if everyone else is at base camp five, then your plan is wrong.
“You’ve got to keep evaluating, keep looking. The only thing you do know is that you’ve got to keep going forward and that’s hard.
“It’s like climbing a mountain, the higher you get, the more uncomfortable it gets, the ground gets shaky, your ears start to burn, your nose starts to run.
There were times that we could have taken our foot off the accelerator, but we didn’t let up – Big Billy on England's ruthless philosophy https://t.co/NBHLDEqfO2
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 25, 2019
“And that’s where we’re getting into that territory because we’ve got to push it forward again.”
Te’o and Brown were involved in an altercation in north-east Italy and were subsequently overlooked for the World Cup squad.
“When you have the team together for longer, the players can work out problems and develop better relationships,” Jones said.
“For an England side that is quite a difficult thing because you’ve got 12 clubs that all have different philosophies and the players are employed by the clubs. If someone pays you money, you’re loyal to that club.
“To have time together as a team and for them to work out differences for a better relationship is massive for us.
“In a Test week, it’s business all the time because now we have time to have other types of sessions. They’re not all drinking sessions but we do have some drinking sessions.”
England return to Treviso this week for the second of their two ‘heat camps’, which Jones insists will be like a “mini pre-season” as he prepares to raise the intensity once more, declaring “it’s the only way we can get better”.
An eight-try demolition of Ireland – considered fellow title contenders – has set minds racing over what could unfold this autumn, but number eight Billy Vunipola knows what must happen next to justify the hype.
“I would like to see that performance away from home. That is the biggest thing for me. I have said it to Eddie in the changing rooms,” Vunipola said.
“It’s something we need to start doing away from Twickenham. That is the biggest challenge next, going to Japan and doing it away from all our fans and the comforts of our home changing room.
“Our next game is against Italy but our biggest game is against Tonga. We need to put out performances like Ireland more consistently.”
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.