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Vern Cotter not falling for England head coach Eddie Jones' mind games

Published 28/01/2016

Vern Cotter, pictured, questioned Eddie Jones' assertion that Scotland are favourites to beat England
Vern Cotter, pictured, questioned Eddie Jones' assertion that Scotland are favourites to beat England

Vern Cotter insists England head coach Eddie Jones is attempting to relieve the pressure on his own shoulders by installing Scotland as favourites for their RBS 6 Nations clash.

Jones' reign opens at Murrayfield on Saturday week when the Red Rose will be seeking to lift the Calcutta Cup for an eighth successive year.

Both coaches have installed their rival's team as favourites with Jones arguing the Scots' performance at the World Cup identifies them as the form side in Europe.

The 55-year-old compares England's dismal showing at the global showpiece, in which they failed to qualify for the knockout phase, to Scotland being denied a place in the semi-finals by an erroneous penalty decision.

"I don't know how Eddie works that out. It's just a psychological lever that he's trying to use, to take the pressure off himself," Cotter said.

"I gather that England are still ranked ahead of us by World Rugby. I didn't think England would need that, I thought they would be comfortable with the favourites' tag."

Jones has a reputation for engaging in mind games and he was happy to begin the verbal sparring at the Six Nations launch on Wednesday.

"Remember that photo that was sent around during the World Cup? It was of an English gentleman trying to get out of the pool and he couldn't do it," Jones said.

"Well Scotland made it out of the pool and nearly got to the semi-final. The difference in performance at the World Cup was enormous.

"Both teams will have had two weeks to prepare so the advantage that Scotland has is massive, but they have to carry that pressure of favouritism which is something they probably aren't used to."

Arnold Schwarzenegger's quote on the wall of England's high performance centre has been erased as Jones seeks to start afresh.

The imprint of Stuart Lancaster's regime is being removed from the squad's Surrey training base by his successor as head coach, who has ordered his players to stamp their own mark on the £3.5million facility.

One of the details that came to light after the failed World Cup were Schwarzenegger's words inscribed on the changing room walls, stating: "Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."

Jones said at the RBS 6 Nations launch in south west London: "I'm not a big fan of his movies, so he definitely won't be there! We're starting afresh. In a lot of ways we've put a new coat of paint on the place.

"The players stay at the hotel and the hotel is a nice five-star hotel. That's where they relax. But once they step into the training centre it's about business. So we want the players to be involved in setting up the training centre.

"They already have little projects to get on with in how they want the training centre to be, because it's their place of work."

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