England Jones' England already targeting one of their Six Nations rivals
Head coach Eddie Jones has warned England’s Six Nations rivals that his young team still has plenty of improvement to make after taking care of South Africa and Australia in their impressive Autumn Nations series.
Jones capped 23 players in 2021 and admitted some of those new caps had to be thrown into test rugby even though there were question marks over their ability to survive the ultimate challenge in the sport. However, the likes of Bevan Rodd, Raffi Quirke, Freddie Steward and Nic Dolly showed that English rugby is delivering youngsters with the skills to help drive England towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Jones said: “We set out at the start of the Autumn to create a new England which revolved around changing the selection and bringing in some young players in and being more aggressive with our attack as the game required. Whilst we have had good results our performance is still at a level where there is a lot of improvement in us and the great thing is we have four campaigns before the World Cup in 2023 so the next one – the Six Nations – is a great opportunity for us to keep improving.
“We have very good group of players who work every well and hard together and they are looking forward to the challenge of becoming even better at the next Six Nations.
“Over the last two weeks we have beaten the third best team in the world and the best and have had our challenges in terms of Covid and a number of injuries where some young guys we thought weren’t ready to play at that level have been given that opportunity and acquitted themselves really well and so we have added to the depth and competition. We have also added to the hunger of the side which is really important because with the development of some of the younger players quicker than we thought puts enormous competitive strains on getting selected which is a good position to be in.
“The Six Nations is the next one and is another opportunity to improve and that is our focus. The game we are thinking about is the Scotland game and we will get back together in December. There are number of good young players and we have had 23 new caps this season and a lot of those players are going to have great careers in front of them -If they keep working hard and that hunger to get better .
“Nic Dolly was going back to play for Coventry, got a call up from Leicester and played four or five games for them find himself in the England squad and coming up against the best pack in the world in front of 82,000 people at Twickenham. What a story in terms of resilience and keep doing your work and taking the opportunity when it comes.”
Jones paid tribute to the impact former Wasps attack coach Martin Gleeson has had on the squad and expects this to become even more obvious in the Six Nations thanks to the continued emphasis by referees on helping deliver quick ruck ball.
He added: “The speed of ruck ball dictates how you can play rugby always, has and always will. You never really know when you bring a new coach in but Martin has been absolutely outstanding. His eye for detail and understanding of the game is first class and him and Anthony Seibold in that attack-defence area have made a really good impression on the team and will continue to add value as we go along.
“The way the players stuck to the game (against South Africa) was fantastic and in big test matches you sometimes have to win the game two or three times and we had to win that at least two times.
“In those sort of games you have to stay in the moment which we did very well and didn’t allow ourselves to get to flustered or frustrated by the welter of penalties going against us. You know that the game will come back to you if you hang in there long enough and they hung in there long enough. It doesn’t hide the fact there are areas of our game where we can consistently improve – around the set-piece, the breakdown is providing more challenges as the weeks go by and we need get better in that area.
“I was really happy with the attitude and the character which the team showed. “
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