England head coach Eddie Jones believes his side’s upcoming tour to Australia will be filled with “flat tracks and abusive crowds”.
Australian-born Jones has extensive local knowledge of the country, having coached there at all levels, including the Wallabies at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. This insight has been key for England winning all eight clashes with Australia under Jones.
An “aggressive” tour awaits
Jones expects a robust tour with “aggressive” fans and media as he prepares his team to tour down under. The 62-year-old believes his side must go hard at the hosts and impose themselves.
“We’ve got to go after them. We’ve got a whole intention of going after them,” said Jones.
“Davie Rennie’s sides traditionally want to play on the front foot, so it’s going to be about who wins the front foot.
“There will be really hard, flat tracks and abusive crowds. They are in the face, the Australians. The media are going to be in our face – they are aggressive.
“It’s a really aggressive environment. You can learn so much about your players and your squad on those tours and we’ve missed that.
“I’m sure it’ll be fun. For Australians, it’s the biggest tour and it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be fantastic for rugby and it’s going to be fantastic for our squad.”
Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola returns to the squad after last playing for England in 2021, thanks to a solid season and poorly timed injuries to Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds.
“Billy can definitely bring power. He’s got that dexterity and subtle hands. When he’s at his best, which we think he’s close to now, he gives you something a little bit different,” Jones said.
“When players have had a lot of success – and all coaches will tell you this – there are some that are continually hungry for success and can’t live without it. Then there are some that sit back a little bit.
“He probably sat back a little bit and sometimes it takes a reminder to get them to sit forward a bit more. He’s had that reminder and we’re optimistic that we’ll see the best of him in the Test arena.”
With the Australian pitches playing hard and fast, the call-up of 35-year-old scrum-half Danny Care could prove to be a clever move as Jones looks to find any advantage he can with selection.
“The Australian tracks are typically hard and fast and the first game we play on in Perth is an AFL track so it’s for thoroughbreds. It suits Danny. He’s on top of the ground,” Jones said.
“If you had your race form out and it was muddy you’d say don’t back him, but if it’s firm get on him. He plays his best on top of the ground and is in great form. He’s in great physical nick.”