Jones fired up for World Cup challenge

May 16, 2017

England coach Eddie Jones has warned that his players will need to steel themselves for a hard challenge, after the draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup grouped his side with France and Argentina.

England were drawn in Pool C and could potentially face New Zealand in the semi-final of the tournament should they progress that far. Jones was realistic about the scale of the task facing England in two years’ time, even joking that he might pay a visit to one of the Shinto temples in Kyoto, Japan – where the draw was taking place – and ‘pray really hard’.

Nevertheless, Jones issued a call to arms to his squad, stressing that England would need to be highly resolute if they were come through the group and progress to the tournament’s latter stages.

“Again, we need to produce a bulletproof team that can play against any sort of team. Against Argentina and France you’ll be playing teams with big ball‑runners and we’re probably looking at a physical disadvantage in both of those games,” he told the Guardian. “They’re bigger teams than us, so we’re going to have to get better at being tactically smart and being more skilful, which is all part of the plan anyway.”

Jones observed that England must be prepared to face up to different styles of rugby if they’re to avoid the same fate they suffered on home turf in 2015 – being dumped out of the tournament in the group stages. The coach admitted concerns about the risk of complacency, and warned that anyone who showed signs of it now would not feature in the squad in two years’ time.

He also indicated that he would relocate one of England’s training camps to Japan next year so that his players could acclimatise to their surroundings. Jones – who spent six years in the country coaching Suntory Sungoliath – added that the players would be accompanied by support staff to help them get used to Japan.

The draw was more favourable for Ireland, who were grouped with Scotland and Japan in addition to two qualifiers. Wales, meanwhile, found themselves in Pool D alongside Australia and Georgia. Reigning champions New Zealand are in Pool B with South Africa and Italy.


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