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'He has at times targeted various players in our team... we're going to have to deal with him'

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Eddie Jones has his sights set on curbing the influence of veteran skipper Alun Wyn Jones as England head to Cardiff looking to put an end to the dreams in Wales of a 2021 Six Nations Grand Slam title. The 35-year-old Jones has only been a winner on nine occasions in his 22 games against the English, but the 145-cap second row was central to what unfolded two years ago at the Principality Stadium when the countries met in round three of the championship. 

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A come-from-behind win for Wales catapulted them further along the track to a Grand Slam they were to clinch some weeks later in what was Warren Gatland’s final year in charge, and England boss Jones is on red alert to try and ensure his namesake in the Welsh pack doesn’t wield as much influence this time around.  

Asked about the proposition posed by the lock who has been doing the rounds at Test level since  2006, Jones said: “He has played 146 Tests so he knows what he is doing. He is an experienced campaigner, he has a good relationship with the referees.

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“He has at times targeted various players in our team. We have spoken about him, we understand what he will be trying to do and it’s just making sure we maintain our composure and our control,” said the England boss who went on to suggest his team are becoming more streetwise in handling pressure situations away from home.  

“We are evolving into a more street smart team. The game is about pressure situations and whilst we all like to think we can handle every pressure situation, we don’t and that is the great thing about a game of rugby. I am sure Alun Wyn Jones is going to be looking for those situations and we are going to have to deal with him.

“Experience definitely helps, having a mental model in your head about how to handle certain situations. All the research shows that if you have had that experience you are able to sometimes anticipate and certainly react quicker and come up with a solution, so experience is a big thing there. 

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“But some people are fast learners and some are slow learners, some of us who aren’t so bright like me it takes us five or six times to learn something. The learning gradient is different for every player and every team and you never know exactly where you are. If you did it would be easy.”

Jones, meanwhile, refused to take the bait when asked about allegations from famed ex-cricketer Ian Botham that England doesn’t look a happy camp and are there for the taking by a Welsh team in which Botham’s grandson James has been selected on the bench. “What do you want me to say? He’s entitled to his opinion… we have got cricketers who want to talk about rugby, fantastic.”

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'He has at times targeted various players in our team... we're going to have to deal with him'

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