More robustness and self-reliance with on-field decisions has been the biggest improvements among England’s players in 2016, says coach Eddie Jones.
England finished the year unbeaten, winning all 13 Tests they played including a Six Nations Grand Slam and historic 3-0 series victory in Australia.
Jones told Reuters he was impressed with his side’s development and believed the players have become much more robust in taking the on-field decisions.
“The players have really changed, they are much more robust, more self-reliant,” said Jones.
“They can make decisions on the pitch by themselves, and we are seeing them (do that) in difficult games.”
Jones admitted his first game in charge was a tough, hard-fought 15-9 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.
“We got the points and got a lot of confidence from that. I can remember getting out of the bus at the ground and this little Scotland fan was shouting out at the top of his voice ‘we’re going to stuff you guys, we’re going to stuff you guys’,” Jones said.
“That was the start of being part of that intense Six Nations rivalry between teams.”
England, on an unbeaten run of 14 matches including the win over Uruguay in their last World Cup game, completed the grand slam with a 31-21 victory in Paris and begin their new campaign against France at Twickenham on February 4.
Despite their astonishing revival, Jones deflected praise to the players for turning things around.
“The players deserve 90 per cent of the credit and the other 10 per cent goes to the staff who work very well,” he said.
“We’re lucky with England that we have got very good support staff, with Steve Borthwick, Paul Gustard and now Neil Hatley’s doing a terrific job.”