Jones wants 'sharp and smart' England against Australia

2018-11-23 10:31
 Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones (Getty)

London - England coach Eddie Jones has warned his side to stay "sharp and smart" when they bring down the curtain on their 2018 against his native Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

Jones's men have won just five of 11 Tests in 2018 and Australia four of 12 heading into this weekend's match - concerning figures with less than a year to go until the World Cup in Japan.

It was all a far cry from Jones's stunning start as England boss -- an appointment made after Australia knocked the hosts out of the 2015 World Cup -- which saw just two defeats in his first 26 Tests in charge of the Red Rose.

But victory on Saturday would be a sixth in a row for England against Australia under Jones.

More importantly, it would also mean they had won three of their four Twickenham encounters this month, with the only reverse an encouraging if agonising 16-15 defeat by world champions New Zealand.

England, however, were sluggish at the start of last week's eventual 35-15 win over Japan and found themselves five points down at half-time.

But Jones has reverted to something near his strongest available side with Owen Farrell, whose entry off the bench for the second half turned the tide against Japan, starting at fly-half.

Intriguingly, Farrell's co-captain Dylan Hartley is on the bench, with Jamie George preferred as the starting hooker.

No one knows better than Jones, who exactly 15 years earlier to the day on Thursday had been Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England, how Wallaby rugby must live on its wits given a relatively small playing base.

And he warned England would have to pay close attention to Australia centres Bernard Foley and Samu Kerevi, who between them combine guile and power.

"Foley obviously will be the distributor and Kerevi can knock over a few pins, so we're going to have to be good defensively," said Jones.

"But to get the opportunity to use the ball we're going to have to be sharp and smart."

Traditionally, England-Australia clashes have been framed as a contest between Red Rose forwards and Wallaby backs, although the hosts will look to bring Manu Tuilagi off the bench in what is set to be the injury-plagued centre's first Test in more than two years.

Certainly, England's pack will be hoping to starve an Australia side coached by Michael Cheika - who played alongside Jones for Sydney club Randwick - of the ball.

A key figure in that aim will be Saracens second-row Maro Itoje.

"I think every game he looks like he's going to become the best lock in the world, and it's another opportunity for him to knock on the door," said Jones.

Australia's influential No 8, David Pocock, has been included in the run-on XV despite a neck injury suffered during last week's 26-7 win against Italy.

"I wouldn't say he is fully fit, he is hurting," said Cheika, who guided Australia to the 2015 World Cup final.

But he added: "I wouldn't take a risk physically with him."

Australia scrumhalf Will Genia will win his 100th cap but there was no place at all in the matchday 23 for talented playmaker Kurtley Beale.

"I want to play a certain way in this game and, with that thought in mind I had to make some really difficult decisions," Cheika explained.

Saturday's match will see the Wallabies wearing their Indigenous jersey, first introduced last year, which acknowledges the contribution of Australia's Aboriginal community.

"They are the original people of Australia. It is giving back to them and appreciating everything they have done for our country," explained prop Sekope Kepu.

"Wearing it at Twickenham this weekend, there is a bit of emotion around it.

"We are from a special country and to be here in England, the 'Mother Country', is quite unique."



15 Elliot Daly, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (co-captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ben Moon

Substitutes: 16 Dylan Hartley (co-captain), 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 George Ford, 23 Manu Tuilagi


15 Israel Folau,14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Jack Maddocks, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Will Genia, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Sefa Naivalu, 23 Marika Koroibete

Read more on:    england  |  wallabies  |  eddie jones  |  rugby


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