Eddie Jones believes England have an edge over their World Cup rivals because of the steps taken to ensure they are ready to play in the sweltering heat and humidity of Japan. Two training camps in Treviso, north-east Italy, in July and August followed by eight nights in Miyazaki have subjected the squad to the boiling conditions which they will encounter over the coming weeks.
Temperatures regularly top 30 degrees while the humidity level climbs above 60 per cent every day, but rather than be intimidated by the oppressive climate Jones sees it as a feature of the first Asian World Cup that can be exploited.
“We’re looking forward to playing in the humidity,” Jones said at England’s official arrival press conference on the island of Kyushu. “We’ve prepared for it and it’s obviously a big part of rugby in Japan in September and October. We feel like playing in the humidity will give us an advantage.”
As coach of Japan four years ago, Jones took the Brave Blossoms to the same location for an extended training camp that helped produce the nation’s finest performance at a World Cup. Although they narrowly failed to reach the quarter-finals, they stunned South Africa to stage the greatest upset in rugby history in a victory that had its origins in Miyazaki.
“I can still see some of the sweat of the players lying on the ground! It’s still there!” England’s head coach said. “It’s a great place to train – great facilities, the weather’s fantastic, the food’s good and the people are friendly. It’s nice to come back here. The players have a number of opportunities to do different things. They can play golf, they have been down the beach. It’s a place where you can prepare to win and that’s why we came here.”
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England landed in Tokyo on Monday and although their exit from Narita Airport was delayed by five hours due to the fallout from Typhoon Faxai, they have not encountered any further issues. “The first part of the World Cup is always dependent on your travel. We had a vigorous travel schedule, but we’ve settled in well now and have got used to the conditions,” Jones said.
“Players have been out and about a bit. We’ve deliberately had quite an easy training week but we’ll increase that starting Saturday. The players have adjusted really well. We’re very positive and there’s a good feeling in the camp. Everyone is ready to start work now.
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“We’ve actually had to pull players back because they wanted to work harder. We’ve had a variety of activities on and off the field. The players feel like they’ve adapted to the environment as well as they can and now they’re ready to begin the serious preparation for the World Cup.”
Jones confirmed that Mako Vunipola (hamstring) and Jack Nowell (ankle) will not be available until the key Pool C games against Argentina and France next month. England open their World Cup title quest against Tonga on Sunday week and their Australian boss hopes they will gather some local fans.
“The Japanese love the All Blacks and that isn’t going to change, but I’m sure we’ll get our fair share of support,” Jones said. “We’ll get some good support and it will make a difference because Japanese rugby crowds can be quite quiet. If we’ve got a number of people supporting us, it could make a difference.”
– Press Association
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