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The subtle dig Andy Farrell has aimed at Jones' 'new' England

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Andy Farrell has taken a subtle dig at Eddie Jones’ ‘new’ England ahead of the March 12 visit by Ireland to Twickenham for a round four Guinness Six Nations fixture. Last Sunday’s post-game chat in Dublin was dominated by the farcical situation that resulted in Italy being reduced to 13 players and the match having uncontested scrums for 59 minutes.  

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However, near the end of his media briefing, there was a question put to Farrell about how he felt England were shaping up and while he praised their narrow win over Wales, he suggested that Jones’ team haven’t changed as much as they would like people to think.  

The England head coach and his staff have been frequently putting the message about that that they are in charge of a ‘new’ England that is trying to evolve its game with a view to winning the 2023 World Cup.  

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However, Ireland boss Farrell, who has named a 27-strong squad for his fallow-week training camp, suggested this alleged ‘new’ doesn’t quite stack up in one particular area of the game, the kicking that England do. 

Speaking in the wake of Ireland’s 57-6 win over Italy, Farrell said about England: “We know they are going to come hard off the line at us. Italy came hard off the line at us at times and we weren’t composed enough, so we need to be a little more accurate there. 

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“We know they like to kick the ball for territory a lot, the same as what they have done the last couple of seasons. I thought they were good. I thought in the first half they were very dominant as far as territory was concerned. They kept the scoreboard ticking over and thoroughly deserved their half-time lead and I suppose like is they will be plenty for them to ponder in the next coming weeks the same as ourselves.”

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Jones has in the past controversially labelled Ireland as a team that frequently kicks away possession but statistics on the official Six Nations website note that England have gained 2,130.9 metres from their kicking in their three championship matches so far, a figure that eclipses Ireland’s 2,032.5 tally. England’s kicked-metres count is led by Ben Youngs, who is credited with 640 metres while Marcus Smith has 379. 

In contrast, Jamison Gibson-Park, who has played way more minutes at scrum-half than his positional counterpart Youngs, has kicked for just 451 metres with James Lowe next best with 354 metres from his single outing last Sunday against the Italians. 

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