As Eddie Jones prepares his England side to play their last competitive fixture before Rugby World Cup 2019, he spoke to RugbyPass to explain his selection to face Scotland and his review of the Championship so far.
Jones said, “I think we’ve had a very good 6 Nations but the Scottish game will be our best performance. I think we had a bad thirty minutes against Wales and that’s obviously put us in a difficult position to win the Championship.
“But we can do all we can on Saturday, which is how we’re prepared and we’re really focussed on putting forward our best performance.”
Jones explained, “We just want to look after him as a young player. I want him to play 100 tests for England and at this stage of this career, there’s still certain things of his game that he needs to work on, and he knows he has to work on that. He’ll come back and he’ll be a very valuable player for us in the World Cup.”
He added, “There’s a whole story to looking after young players. It’s not about the media, it’s not about playing, it’s not about how they think, it’s about putting everything together and giving them a pathway to be successful long term. The one thing you don’t want to see is a young guy like that play six or seven tests and waste all the talent he’s got. We want to make sure he has a long career and he’s a great player for England.”
Jones has reinstalled his centre pairing of Henry Slade alongside Manu Tuilagi, the Leicester man starting all five games of an England Six Nations campaign for the first time and who confirmed this week that he will be staying at Leicester for the foreseeable future.
Jones commented, “He’s a massively important player for us. He’s a strong ball carrier, he’s a great defender. He’s also an infectious guy. He’s a quiet guy but he’s quite infectious around the group. The players like playing with him, he loves playing with this squad and so you get that intangible good feeling when he plays. He’s only going to get better and better.”
Ben Youngs will become England’s most capped scrum-half on Saturday, a player that Eddie Jones encouraged in no uncertain terms to trim down on the kilos when he took over.
On Youngs’ accolade, Jones remarked, “I think it’s a great testament to him that he really keeps developing his game and keeps getting better. This is not a peak for Ben, it might be a statistical peak but the peak of his career is still to come.”
As Jones prepares for this 42nd match in charge of England, what is his progress report to date?
He said, “Really positive, we’re going in the right direction. We’ve got a good feeling within camp, a good work ethic within the camp, good leadership within the camp and we’ve got to make sure that every day we keep getting better and Scotland’s a great chance to show where we’re going.”
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