London - England coach Eddie Jones has warned his players
not to allow the lure of selection for the British and Irish Lions tour of New
Zealand to distract them from their immediate task of defending the Six Nations
Even the potential last-day championship Dublin showdown
with Ireland is strictly off limits as Jones follows the modern management
mantra of looking no further than the next game.
In England's case, that is at home to France on February 4
in their opening Six Nations match, for which he named a largely predictable
squad on Friday.
The make-up of Warren Gatland's Lions party is anything but
predictable, however, and Jones is doing all he can to ensure that the constant
speculation does not have a negative impact on his team.
"If you read the media, players are talking about the
Lions, about the tour, how they want to be a Lion. It's a massive attraction
but can be a massive distraction," he told reporters at Twickenham on
"There is a danger that they focus on the future rather
than now," the Australian added.
"So we've got a lot of distractions in front of us and
part of our job as staff and the senior players at the start of the camp in
Portugal (next week) is to make sure that we get the focus right, and that's
After England's perfect year of 13 victories and a fans'
assumption that they will cruise through their first four games and travel to
Dublin with the title on the line, Jones accepted that there was a danger of
"Everyone's talking about the Ireland game. It's not a
concern for us but if you keep hearing that it can get in your head," he
"That's where the observation of the coaches is
important. It's the way the players talk, train and interact and it's whether
they do the small things - their work off the ball, not taking short cuts.
Because when you stop doing the small things that's when the performance
So Jones's focus is entirely on France in two weeks and he
is expecting a stiff examination from the team England beat in Paris last March
to secure the grand slam.
"Guy Noves has got the team going in the right
direction, you can see they're enjoying the game more," he said.
"They've got that 'joie de vivre' back in their game.
They've picked a big physical squad, they've got exceptionally gifted back
rowers and those two Fijian wings.
"They should have beaten Australia and took New Zealand
to the wire in November. They're really starting to get their game