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'That rat poison gets into players' heads': Eddie Jones fires back at England critics

By Liam Heagney
Photo by PA

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Eddie Jones has launched a fiery riposte following the criticism that some of his England players have had to endure during a difficult 2021 Guinness Six Nations. February defeats to Scotland and Wales left Jones and a number of his regular picks on the receiving end of much disapproval from the media and fans.


England hit back with a round four win over title favourites France last weekend and Jones’ recall of Elliot Daly to his starting line-up to face Ireland this weekend in Dublin was the prompt for the coach to round on the negativity that has surrounded his team during their latest campaign.

One of Jones’ most frequently selected players, Daly was dropped to the bench for the win over France but he now returns to the starting XV as a replacement for the injured Henry Slade following an encouraging return to form during his appearance as a sub last Saturday at Twickenham.

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England World Cup winner Neil Back guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload with Dylan Hartley and Ryan Wilson
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England World Cup winner Neil Back guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload with Dylan Hartley and Ryan Wilson

Asked had he noticed the confidence of his England players being knocked recently, Jones claimed there was no such thing as confidence. “I have never seen confidence walk through the door, so I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t know what confidence is,” he quipped before going on to explain if he notices when a player is down on himself.

“They might think differently, they might work a little bit harder, they might work a little bit less and we are always just trying to get them to think right. I don’t think there is any such thing as confidence. You either think right or you think wrongly.

“And the wrong time (is when) you start to listen to the poison that is written in the media and that rat poison gets into players’ heads and we try to keep it out of their head. We try to spray all that rat poison that you try to put in and get it out of their head, so we’re always working hard to get it out of their head. It keeps me busy, mate.


“Look, some players need to do it by themselves. Some players need a little bit a nudge to get them in the right direction and it’s completely individual,” Jones continued regarding how he handles players such as Daly when they are not at the top of their game.

“If we were all the same it would be pretty boring. You could just sit down and say, ‘Right, this is the way you have got to think’ to everyone and then life would be pretty easy, but life is a bit more complex than that so we just work out for each player who they need, what they need.

“Some players don’t need much and Elliot is an experienced player. He has played 50 caps, he can work it out for himself and he has. We’re really pleased he is coming back into his best form and we know at his best he is a world-class player and we are anticipating that on Saturday.

“His form wasn’t very good at the start of the tournament, was it? We had a number of players like that – he wasn’t the only one – and all those players have had to dig deep and find themselves, as the team has.”


Having defeated France with England’s best performance since the 2019 World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand, Jones is looking for his side to now show against Ireland that they have learned from Japan where they were unable to go out the following week and reproduce the same levels of performance in the final against South Africa.

“There is no similarities expect the context of the games are similar, so it is a great opportunity for us to show we have learnt to keep the noise out, we have learnt to understand what the game will present and play the game to the best of our ability which we weren’t able to do in the World Cup final.”


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