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England captain responds to prospect of Eddie Jones' mind games

By PA
Japan's new head rugby coach Eddie Jones speaks during a press conference to speak about the new squad for upcoming matches in Tokyo on May 30, 2024. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/Afp/AFP via Getty Images)

Jamie George insisted England would not be unsettled by any mind games from Eddie Jones as they prepared to face their former head coach for the first time since he was sacked in 2022.

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Jones’ seven-year Twickenham stewardship ended 18 months ago because of an ongoing decline in results and after a disastrous and short-lived stint with Australia, he was placed back in charge of Japan.

In Tokyo on Saturday he will lock horns with his former number two Steve Borthwick in an intriguing sub-plot to the opening assignment of England’s summer tour, which also includes two matches against New Zealand.

Famed for his attempts to needle the opposition while creating a siege mentality around his team, Jones is expected to target Borthwick’s men this week.

“I’m not sure that we can distract ourselves or be worried about too much of that kind of thing,” England captain George said.

“This is a huge game for Eddie – his first game with Japan and us going back there for the first time since the 2019 World Cup. There are some great memories and some not-so great memories!

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“But we’ve got a huge amount of respect for Eddie. He did great things for English rugby and he prepares his teams very, very well. He’ll have a really good plan in terms of how to break us down.

“When he speaks about Japanese rugby, he speaks a lot about moving the ball, playing a fast game, high tempo – so that’s possibly coming.

“But at the same time, who knows with Eddie – he’s a bit of a master of his craft, isn’t he?”

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England begin Test week with an intriguing duel between Harlequins’ Marcus Smith and Fin Smith of Northampton brewing at fly-half.

George Ford’s absence from the tour because of a damaged Achilles has created a vacancy in the number 10 jersey that will be filled by either Quins’ electric playmaker or the general of Saints’ march to the Gallagher Premiership title.

The rivals offer different skill sets and George said: “What a brilliant opportunity for them to come in and really run the attack and be big leaders in this team.

“They have been brilliant – Marcus over a number of years and Fin this season has been so impressive with the maturity he has shown.

“George is like a coach in a player’s body, so we’re going to miss a player of his calibre. But we’ve got two amazing players to step up and we can share the load.”

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1 Comment
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john 28 days ago

cannot see England loosing this match to Japan will have to much physically in the forwards and providing the backs are patient we certainly have the skills

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Mzilikazi 5 hours ago
Daugunu salvo shows why Wallabies work-rate is everything to Schmidt

Nice article, Brett, and good to be writing about a second win. I think Georgia will be far more testing. Tbh, I have not looked at their touring squad, but at full strength they are a far better and more dangerous team than they were at RWC France. They would have been disappointed they did not perform to full potential there. I think that the WB’s under Joe Schmidt have started soundly. Recovery from a serious setback always takes time. And the Jones era was that and more. I think the arrival of Les Kiss back to his native Qld. is a very positive factor, and the fact that he and Schmidt know each other well is a help. Players I think are much improved this year: Daugunu, who has blossomed with the Rebels, so credit to the coaching unit down there. Am pleased he will come back to the Reds. McReight is said to have put on up to 7 kgs since last season. His work rate has always been good, but it is his carrying into contact that has gone up. Now makes those critical one or two metres post contact very often. Is conceding fewer penalties now as his game matures. Rob Valetini was good last year, but is now a greater force this one. A really punishing ball carrier. Hunter Paisami is now a more controlled player. His carrying into contact is very impressive for an 80 kg man. Interestingly, if you saw Nick Bishops latest article, he has a team for RC with Kerevi at 12. Also Skelton in the team. Not sure if there will be o’seas players as early as RC though….but need them in by the EYOT games.

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