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Eddie Jones: England squad fit enough for Six Nations but not for Australia tour

Published 09/02/2016

Italy are next up for England and Eddie Jones
Italy are next up for England and Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones insists England's current level of fitness is adequate for the RBS 6 Nations but would be exposed on the summer tour to Australia unless improvements are made.

The Jones era was launched successfully with Saturday's 15-9 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield and continues this weekend when Italy will be hoping to claim a first Red Rose scalp.

England drew pride in their conditioning under Stuart Lancaster and spoke at length about the effort put into their summer-long training camp in preparation for the World Cup, which ended in a group exit and without any discernible physical advantage over their rivals.

Jones is merely satisfied with the fitness of his players and believes work will need to be done if they are to challenge Australia over three Tests this summer.

"The players are fit enough to play in the Six Nations but won't be fit enough to play in Australia on hard tracks, definitely," Jones said.

"Fitness is not about straight fitness - it's game-specific fitness. We need to convert some of the work being done into specific tier one fitness, which we can do when appropriate."

When asked if the required conditioning can be achieved in time for the summer tour, Jones replied: "One hundred per cent. We need to work with the clubs and look at the strategy. We've got a couple of weeks lead-in to the tour.

"There is specific fitness for rugby and the only way you get that is by training specifically for rugby. You don't get it by doing other things. We will pick up a considerable amount.

"By the time we have finished this Six Nations we will be a fitter side than we are now.

"I'm not saying we are unfit at the moment but there are periods of time in the game when we haven't got the concentration and the application to be able to do what we want to do.

"We will pick that up through training and by the end of the Six Nations we will be in pretty good fettle.

"The hope is that the players understand where they need to be at for international rugby and they will continue to do that with their clubs. Then we will top them up for the Australian tour."

Until the 52-11 victory in 2014, England had struggled in Rome, winning their three previous encounters by five points or fewer, and Jones draws on a comparison with Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester to explain why.

"It's about mindset. It's always about how you go into the game, what sort of attitude you have," he said.

"If you look at a soccer analogy at the moment, how does Leicester City and their salary bill of £22million be on top of the Premier League? It is all because of attitude.

"It is all because of how hard they work for each other. It is all because the sum of that team is greater than the individuals.

"If you go back to England, if you look at the talent in England, my job has been to get them cohesive and cohesive means they work hard for each other, do the small things well and have a united mindset. If we have that going to Italy we are going to have a good performance."

Jones declared on Sunday that he wanted England to give Italy a "good hiding" and he refused to backtrack two days later.

"The sun could be shining. They will be selling paninis outside the ground, everyone will be happy so it could be a good occasion. We'll have a referee who likes attacking rugby," he said.

"We want to go there with that intent in mind. That is not being frivolous - it is being where we want to be."

England have added Maro Itoje and Josh Beaumont to the matchday 23 picked against Scotland in preparation for Friday's team announcement.

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