England coach Eddie Jones says they have found a new way of playing ahead of crunch Test against Boks
Signs of the British bulldog belligerence that helped carry England to a three-nil Test series clean sweep against Australia two years ago are back‚ warned coach Eddie Jones on the eve of the first Test against the Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday.
It seems far-fetched when you look at England’s most recent record which shows four consecutive defeats against Scotland‚ France and Ireland as well as a hiding handed down by the wild running Barbarians.
So from where Jones’s bullishness?
“I don’t think anybody thinks about that‚” said the coach about England’s recent results.
“It’s a new side‚ with a new captain‚ we’ve got a new way we want to play the game.
“We went through a period where we were very successful. We came to an end of that period. When I look back I think we got tired for a number of reasons. We got tactically tired‚ physically tired and mentally tired. That was shown in our results. We’ve all had a break and we relooked where we have to go tactically. We’ve relooked at how we want to prepare as a team.”
Tactically Bok coach Rassie Erasmus expects England to employ a kicking game aimed at putting well established weaknesses to the blow torch.
From a physiological perspective Jones is expecting his team to last the distance after initial burn in the lungs they are likely to experience at Ellis Park.
He has based his side in Umhlanga until the eve of the Test‚ which is likely to have had restorative impact on their mental wellbeing too.
The mantle of plotting the underdogs’ charge rests easy on the fiery Australian’s shoulders.
“Everyone’s bagging us‚ everyone’s saying we can’t win. South Africa is in a renaissance period under Rassie. It is a great challenge for us.”
Fighting talk comes easy to Jones but the harsh reality is despite the Springboks’ recent record that yielded just three wins in their last 10 Tests‚ they have won 12 of their last 13 clashes against England.
To change that trend England will have to front up physically and allow game managers like George Ford and Owen Farrell to pull the strings.
Without a proper forward shield Ford however could find himself attracting a lot of unwanted attention.
Further back England also pack some punch. Elliot Daly is an elusive runner who also possesses a boot to hurt the Boks from distance.
In redeployed left wing Mike Brown they have a destructive runner around the fringes‚ while Denny Solomona has the ability to make a massive impact off the bench.
Jones acknowledged that his team will have to overcome more than what the Boks throw at them.
“Look‚ I’m sure (his) selection will certainly be uplifting for the country‚” he said of Siya Kolisi’s maiden Test as captain.
“I’ve told the story of when the Wallabies played the Springboks and it was Nelson Mandela’s 80th birthday‚ so I hope it is not Kolisi’s birthday on Saturday.”
Jones though is looking beyond Ellis Park and the peril it possesses.
“It is a great opportunity for us to start the march to the World Cup. To win the World Cup‚ you’ve got to be able to win big matches‚ like winning at Ellis Park.” Teams South Africa – Willie le Roux; S’Busiso Nkosi‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ Damian de Allende‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard‚ Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen‚ Jean-Luc du Preez‚ Siya Kolisi (captain); Franco Mostert‚ RG Snyman; Trevor Nyakane/Wilco Louw‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚ Tendai Mtawarira. Substitutes: Akker van der Merwe‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe; Ivan van Zyl‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Warrick Gelant. England - Elliot Daly; Jonny May‚ Henry Slade‚ Owen Farrell (captain)‚ Mike Brown; George Ford‚ Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola‚ Tom Curry‚ Chris Robshaw; Nick Isiekwe‚ Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler‚ Jamie George‚ Mako Vunipola. Substitutes: Luke Cowan-Dickie‚ Joe Marler‚ Harry Williams‚ Brad Shields‚ Nathan Hughes; Ben Spencer‚ Piers Francis‚ Denny Solomona. Kick-off: 17.00 Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ) TMO: Simon McDowell (Ire)