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Eddie Jones likens Bastareaud to 130kg hybrid of two Wallaby and All Black greats

By Chris Jones

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Eddie Jones believes Mathieu Bastareaud is a potent combination of Wallaby great George Smith and All Black star Sonny Bill Williams and admits shackling the controversial French centre will be one of England’s main problems in Paris on Saturday.


England need to bounce back from their Calcutta Cup loss to Scotland and face a French side boosted by their 34-17 win over Italy which showcased Bastareaud’s power and he delivered a try to mark his test return. Jones saw Scotland centre Huw Jones cut open his mid-field defence to score two tries at Murrayfield and is set to recall Worcester’s Ben Te’o for Jonathan Joseph to counter Bastareaud’s 20st bulk.

Jones said: “Bastareaud is a very unique player and has a different body shape to most centres and also a unique set of skills.

“He is a strong tackler and hard over the ball and is able to compete like a George Smith for the ball and then he has Sonny Bill Williams type off-loading skills. He is a clever player as well as being big and physical. He is going to present some problems for us.

“There is an intense rivalry between England and France and it is great game to test ourselves.”

Wasps Elliot Daly is one backline option Jones can add to the match day squad following his recovery from injury and the head coach said: “He’s got a left foot, he can kick. He’s’ a good running player and has a good work rate off the ball. He just adds another dimension to the back three.”

Jones, who insists he has moved on from the ugly incident in Manchester when he was verbally abused by Scotland supporters, is now concentrating on ensuring England learn the lessons of Murrayfield. He added: “Everyone is disappointed. That’s what a loss does to you, you get disappointed. And then it’s a matter of regrouping, refocusing and re-energising yourselves ready for France.

“We’ve been through the disappointment and had the Oxford week to get through. It’s never preferable to lose, but you learn a lot and human nature is such that when you do have a loss you tend to dig a little big deeper and you find out things that have been an issue that you probably haven’t dealt with as well as you should.”


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Eddie Jones likens Bastareaud to 130kg hybrid of two Wallaby and All Black greats