Eddie Jones: ‘It is the most fun time for coaching’ with less than a year to go until the World Cup

Dylan Coetzee
Eddie Jones at England training 2022 - PA.jpg

England head coach Eddie Jones discussed a variety of topics at England’s press conference at Twickenham after naming his squad for the November Tests, including coaching before the World Cup, his midfield options and dealing with head knocks.

Jones named a 36-man squad for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series, including tricky fixtures against Argentina, Japan, the All Blacks and South Africa.

Balancing act

The 62-year-old admits that with the World Cup less than a year away, it is the “most fun time for coaching”, as there needs to be a balance between results and how much teams are willing to show their opposition ahead of the showpiece event.

“There’s a bit of a cloak and dagger now, 12 months out (from the World Cup) of how much you want to show because the balancing act is you got to have enough game. And that means winning some games and being good in games to keep the players thinking you’re on the right track,” Jones said.

“So if you are too cloak and dagger and you don’t have good results, the players think ‘what’s going on here’. And it’s hard to get them to believe. And if you show them too much, you give the opposition too much, so it’s this balancing act at the moment. But it’s the most fun time for coaching.”

With Elliot Daly, Joe Marchant and Henry Slade all missing from the squad Jones was asked how he sees his midfield options where Owen Farrell – injury depending – seems secure at 12.

“We’ve obviously got Owen on at 12. (Guy) Porter, we’re really impressed with on the Australian tour. Then we’ve got (Manu) Tuilagi and Joseph. Tuilagi, at his best, is probably one of the best centres in the world, and Will Joseph was just outstanding on the Australian tour. And the way he’s come back and been playing as a young kid for London Irish has been outstanding.”

Looking ahead to England‘s first clash in November against Argentina, Jones admits Los Pumas are a tricky prospect now that they have returned to their traditional strengths.

“They are a significant challenge, they’re a good team, and they’ve gone back to playing like Argentina. I think they had a team in Super Rugby for a while and they probably got seduced a bit, trying to play like a Super Rugby team. And they’ve gone back to that hard combative forward pack, hard running centres, and then, you know, a bit of brilliance on the outside with Emiliano Boffelli,” he said.

“That’s traditionally how Argentinian rugby is. And then you can see they’ve worked hard on their scrum. They’ve worked hard on their maul. And then they’ve got some back-rowers that are handy with the ball.”

The head believes the ball playing back-rows in Argentina may have been influenced by the basketball culture in the country, once again showcasing Jones’ interest in cross-sport skills and mindsets.

“It’s always interesting when you watch basketball, because you can see that the Argentinians produce these big, strong, tall back-rowers. The basketball teams have traditionally been good at the Olympics, haven’t they? Because they produce those sorts of players you know, and they’re good with the ball. I think as kids they tend to play a lot of sports when they’re growing up so they tend to be talented with the ball,” Jones said.

Improvements on player safety

Head injuries have been heavily in the spotlight, with 2003 World Cup winner Steve Thompson and many other former players suffering the consequences after their careers.

Jones admits he cannot comment on how World Rugby has handled player safety in the past but believes the governing body has made the game safer.

“I think World Rugby has really been very diligent, mate. I think they’ve made the game safer. We’ve got to continue to keep making the game safer and rugby’s because of the nature of the sport because it is a physical collision game,” he added.

“I think, yeah, what England rugby has done, particularly in terms of the players, has been outstanding. I can’t comment about historically.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Jason Robinson calls for positive changes in rugby union after Wasps and Worcester’s downfall