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Eddie Jones wants England to go on Rome rampage

Published 07/02/2016

England head coach Eddie Jones is demanding a convincing victory when his side head to Italy
England head coach Eddie Jones is demanding a convincing victory when his side head to Italy

Eddie Jones has urged England to build momentum behind their RBS 6 Nations quest by giving Italy a "good hiding" in Rome.

The Jones era was launched with a 15-9 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield that has given the new regime breathing space ahead of the next assignment against an Azzurri team narrowly beaten by France on Saturday.

After the Calcutta Cup had been retained for an eighth year, Jones joked: "I don't know what the cup's called in Italy - The Panini Cup? We'll win it" and England's new head coach has left little doubt over his objective at the Stadio Olimpico.

"We control our own destiny. We want to go to Rome and smack Italy," Jones said.

"I've already said to the boys that's our aim - to go out there and give them a good hiding. Italy are going to be tough because they should have beaten France, but that's our aim."

Spearheading the assault on Rome will be Billy Vunipola, who was named man of the match after rampaging across Murrayfield and was then endorsed by Jones as a player with the potential to become the best number eight in the game.

Vunipola is one of England's three vice-captains in support of Dylan Hartley and on the evidence of one match, he is to have a prominent role for the foreseeable future.

"I tell Billy every day how good he can be. Every player needs to have a dream. As a coach one of your jobs is to give them dreams," Jones said.

"I don't want him to be the best number eight in the Premiership, I want him to be the best number eight in the world. And he can do that."

Jones' biggest gripe at Murrayfield was with referee John Lacey and the appointment of Glen Jackson for the match against Italy is far more to his liking.

"It's difficult to get a moving game under him (Lacey). He allows the defence a lot of advantage at the breakdown, so you have to play like that," Jones said.

"It'll be different conditions in Italy. Glen Jackson's the referee and he favours attacking teams that keep the ball alive, so we'll be able to play a bit more. And it should be a faster deck."

It was partly the influence of Lacey that resulted in an early demonstration of the pragmatism that Jones insists must define England's tactical blueprint.

Once it became apparent that early efforts at playing an expansive game were failing, the focus was switched to a conservative approach that consisted of George Ford kicking downfield and the pack pounding away up front. It bore dividends in the shape of a dominant second half.

"We made the change at half-time. We needed to tighten the game a bit. We were trying to force a game that wasn't going to come," Jones said.

"That's what I'm pleased about - the team really adjusted, really read the game. It goes back to what we were saying about being a pragmatic side.

"We showed good pragmatism against Scotland. You find a way to win and you do it.

"Fans are pragmatic too. If we'd tossed the ball around and lost 17-16, no one would have said 'oh, they played wonderful rugby'.

"I've been through all that. I coached the Brumbies in 2000, we were the best team in the competition, had the ball for 70 per cent of the final and lost 20-19.

"No one congratulated us on that performance. We were super that day and we were beaten. It's all about winning. Fans like winning teams."

Jones views the victory in Edinburgh as a cathartic moment for those players haunted by England's failure to advance from the pool stage of last autumn's World Cup.

"It's virtually the same group of players that went through that tournament, which wasn't a good experience," he said.

"A couple of boys were talking about it the other night. At the end of the Australian game they were looking and they just couldn't believe what had happened. That's a pretty difficult situation.

"To recover and then to come out in the space of two weeks together and put out that sort of collective performance…."

Jones revealed that Joe Launchbury was able to play only 45 minutes after suffering from diarrhoea overnight.

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