Eddie Jones warns of peaking too soon at World Cup

Date published: September 15 2019

England head coach Eddie Jones has warned of peaking too soon at this year’s Rugby World Cup as they prepare for the first game of the tournament.

Jones’ side kick off their campaign against Tonga on Sunday, September 22, however, he is aware of both the physical and mental demands of the tournament.

“The World Cup is like the Cheltenham Gold Cup,” Jones told England Rugby. “You need to be in front at the right time and we intend to be in front when the whips start cracking.

“You’ve got to win seven games in a row and it’s the only tournament in the world that you have to do that on consecutive weeks.”

England will be without prop Manu Vunipola and wing Jack Nowell, while flanker Mark Wilson and back Joe Cokanasiga are not yet in full training ahead of their opener.

And Jones says having an adaptable squad will be vital during the tournament in Japan should England do as well as the betting lounge odds suggest, citing an example from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola’s book.

“You never have your best team any more,” he said.

“I was reading a book the other day about Pep’s first year at Bayern. They play 60 odd games and for one week he had his whole squad available. That’s the reality of top-level physical sports now.

“One of the things we did well in the pre-World Cup games was create that adaptable squad and I think that is the way the sport is going – having an adaptable squad.

“Obviously you have a strongest team but the reality of you putting all of your marbles into that team is not realistic, so I have a much more open approach to selection because of that and it’s probably evolved quite quickly over the past three or four months.”

“World Cups have always been about squads but it’s exacerbated by the way the game has evolved. It’s physically more rigorous and there are other factors involved in the game which means players will likely be ruled out of games so it’s gone to another level in terms of adaptability.”

Following next Sunday’s opener, England will face USA on Thursday, September 26, Argentina on Saturday, October 5 and finally France on Saturday, October 12.