Eddie Jones to enlist brain doctor to cure 'slowness' of English players
Eddie Jones has sought help from an expert in brain research to try and work out why his England players are slow to adapt to problems on the pitch as he prepares for the three test series with South Africa.
Jones has invited Vincent Walsh, a professor of human brain research at University College London, to visit the England training camp to discuss his concerns after three successive Six Nations defeats and the loss to the Barbarians at Twickenham last Sunday.
Jones, who has hit back at criticism that his training sessions are too tough and seriously injure players, said: “I went to have lunch with Bill Sweetenham (former Great Britain swimming coach) a couple of weeks ago and I picked his brain about whether there is anyone I have missed in English sport who can help us. He suggested I go to see Vin Walsh. He is the world’s foremost expert in learning.
“It is not something I sought out because of the Six Nations, it is something that we have been regularly doing. One of the things I have always spoken about with this English side is our slowness to adapt. It is not as if we don’t know what to do but it is the courage to make those decisions quickly.
“We are teachers. The only difference is our players don’t sit through exams, they sit through Test matches. It is our ability to express information and making it meaningful to the players that counts. We are not teaching them how to play rugby. We are trying to change behaviour, so it is learning about how humans operate.
“Vin came to our camp last week and is coming into camp this week and is going to provide a lecture to the coaches about it. It is a really important area and we feel we can get immeasurably better. To win the World Cup, what’s the advantage we can have? We can learn faster than the opposition. That’s the advantage that we have got.”
Jones has disputed Bath owner Bruce Craig’s claim that the injury toll is “unacceptable” when players are with England. Jones said: “I haven’t seen any figures to suggest they are, no one in our staff has suggested they are. But Bruce is obviously an expert in training-ground injuries, so I’ll have to be subservient to his greater knowledge.
“You never want to get players injured, you’re always looking to train appropriately for the game. We play a collision sport so unfortunately you do get injuries. We try to do everything we can to ensure we don’t but sometimes you do.”
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