'That's not going to happen, not even in my wildest dreams'
England boss Eddie Jones has claimed it took his squad until their fallow week training camp in London to get back to the levels of conditioning and cohesiveness they had when they signed off on a successful Autumn Nations series with the win over South Africa. That November victory over the Springboks left his team with three wins from three matches for that campaign.
However, despite being together for a pre-tournament week in Brighton and then having match weeks against Scotland and Italy, it was only during the fallow week training camp between their round two and three February matches that England replicated the heights they had scaled three months ago.
They have since beaten Wales and had another fallow week training camp, this time in Bristol, and speaking ahead of this weekend’s round four title eliminator versus Ireland at Twickenham, Jones suggested: “Are we moving to a better condition than we have been in? Certainly, all the parameters we look at we are (moving to a better condition).
“It took us four weeks to get back to where we were against South Africa, which was the first fallow week. We then started with the same intensity and same accuracy as we did against South Africa and it took us four weeks to get back to it. Now we have surpassed what we did in the South African week and the team doesn’t know how good they can be and we are certainly going to find out on Saturday how good we can be.”
How good? “I have got a picture in my head and it’s a very good picture but we have got to keep developing and no progression is a linear progression. There is ups and downs and you have got to ride that.”
With Jones alleging that it took England four weeks to get back up to the speed of where they had finished up in November, he was asked might it ever be possible for him to perhaps get access to his players for a longer period of time pre-tournament? After all, England have now been beaten in round one of the Six Nations for three consecutive years.
“No, that is not going to happen,” he admitted, knowing the strict deals that exist between the RFU and Premiership Rugby regarding player release. “Not even I would think of that in my wildest dreams.”
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