Eddie Jones has told his holidaying Grand Slam winners they are not good enough to win the World Cup despite surging up to No2 in the rankings after a nine game unbeaten run under his command.
Jones, who will have to change his first choice back row following news that James Haskell could be out for six months after toe reconstruction surgery, is planning two training camps next month during which he will tell the players that despite the Slam triumph and historic 3-0 test series win in Australia they are; “ back to zero now, that’s the reality of it. All of that’s gone.”
Wasps Nathan Hughes, the Fijian No8 who is now qualified for England, and Sam Underhill, the Welsh based open side flanker, will vying for places in the 45 strong Elite Player Squad to be named at the start of October to offer alternatives following Haskell’s injury.
Jones, who has just been experiencing life with an Australian cycling team in the Tour de France and a day with the England cricket side, is eager to get back to work with his players as the test series win in Australia merely confirmed that England still have considerable ground to make up on World Cup champions New Zealand. The first opportunity to see improvement will be in the four Autumn tests with South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia,.
Jones set out his vision for the team after hitting 30 runs for the RFU as they defeated the Rugby Writers in a cricket match at Old Deer Park on Monday which took his winning run to 10 matches in all sporting contests.
He said:” We are definitely fitter but we’re nowhere near as fit as we are going to be for the World Cup in 2019 which is the great thing for us. “
Jones is also turning up the heat on assistant coaches Steve Borthwick, Paul Gustard and Neil Hatley as the forward effort did not provide the consistent platform he believes is vital to become No1 in the World.
The head coach added:“ When I watched the three games with Australia, we didn’t defend well and we have got a lot of work to do in that area. They scored far too many easy tries against us so it is a big work on for us. We want to be an aggressive side, we want to get off the line and we want to hit people but we’ve also got to be smart about it and we weren’t smart.
“We gave them far too many easy breaks and the difference in the series is that we won the last 20-minutes of each test. We have got to get better in our defence and on our set piece which needs to be more efficient. We have good periods and we have not so good periods. The number one team in the world is good all the time.”
Jones confirmed that Dylan Hartley will continue as captain as long as he remains fit and showing the form that helped England stay unbeaten this year.” I will sit down with Dylan and have a chat with him but, all things being equal and if he’s got the same level of commitment that he’s had then I would anticipate him continuing on during November.”