Johannesburg - England coach Eddie Jones knows that the
Springbok team that his men will face in Johannesburg on Saturday will be
different from the one that lost in Washington so he didn’t waste words referencing
South Africa’s loss when his team arrived in the country on Sunday.
Instead of talking about the 22-20 defeat the Boks suffered
against Wales in new coach Rassie Erasmus’ first game in charge, Jones focused
on the changes and improvements that Erasmus will bring to the Bok game going
forward, according to the supersport.com website.
Having coached against the Cheetahs (when he was at the Reds) and the
Stormers teams (when he was coaching Saracens) that Erasmus mentored, and
having monitored Erasmus’ methods when he was in charge of Munster in the
European competitions, Jones feels he has a good idea of what to expect.
“He will bring back traditional Springbok values, such as
strong defence, a powerful physical game, good chasing, and strong set pieces.
All the teams he has coached have had those attributes. I don’t expect the Boks
to bring anything less than that,” said Jones.
Erasmus has picked a number of new players in his greater
squad and Jones said it was difficult for him to gain too much from the squad
“It is hard for me hard to say but everybody knows there are
some good players here, plus Rassie has brought good players back from Europe.
The Boks will play with enormous pride and passion in the Bok jersey, that much
we do know.”
The well-travelled former Wallaby and Japan mentor has
decided to base England in the mild sub-tropical winter that is the usual fare
this time of the year in KwaZulu/Natal for the duration of the tour. His men
will fly to the test matches in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town a day
ahead of each game and then return to Durban afterwards.
With England basing themselves at the plush Beverley Hills
Hotel on the Umhlanga Rocks beachfront, where they will go to sleep at night to
the sound of waves washing over the rocks and wake up to panoramic views of the
sun rising out of the sea, one of Jones’ biggest challenges may be to keep his
men from feeling too relaxed.
But although he did use a surfing metaphor to
describe the point that his team has reached in their build-up to next year’s
World Cup, and what this tour means to them, he left little doubt about the
determination his men would have to win the series.
“We want to win every test we play but there has to be an
eye on the World Cup,” said Jones during the arrival press conference on
“It is like being out on a wave on the ocean out there…you
have to get the balance right - get it right and you stay up on your surfboard,
get it wrong and you fall off. We want to stay up and surf all the way to the
edge of the beach.”
That, intimated Jones, meant that his men had to overcome
big challenges like the ones they face in this away series against the Boks so
they could gain confidence and an inherent belief that they can beat anyone on
a given day.
“In world rugby who do you want to beat? The Boks at Ellis
Park ranks right up there for sure. It is a spiritual home of rugby. Anyone who
knows anything about rugby remembers the 1995 World Cup final and how that
changed rugby, the change it meant for this country, the value it had for sport
in general. So to play the first Test at Ellis Park (now Emirates Airlines
Park) in a three-Test series is something very special.”
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