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Jones badly needs result to keep the chariot on right road


By Michael Sadlier

Though Eddie Jones has had better weeks, all the fallout from his filmed side-swipes at Ireland and Wales, and indeed World Rugby's decision to replace assistant referee Marius van der Westhuizen after his visit to the England camp, will not be fundamental to what occurs at Twickenham today.

With no title to aim for, and two consecutive defeats behind them to heighten the sense of growing crisis, Jones and his squad just have to win this game to dodge an utterly humiliating end to the Six Nations and a pretty ruinous-looking situation ahead of next year's World Cup.

This, in turn, has put Jones in the unusual position of feeling that his, seemingly, bullet-proof tenure is maybe not quite as secure as he might have thought.

Outspoken at the best of times, Jones's style is fine as long as the results are going England's way though, with a less than healthy relationship with the media, there is already a sizeable constituency only too willing to turn on the Australian.

Should England follow up their poor performances at Murrayfield and Stade de France by getting turned over by Grand Slam-chasing Ireland in front of the Twickenham faithful then Jones will hardly be surprised if all the sympathy for the unwarranted attention he received on the train from Edinburgh will have totally evaporated.

Getting ambushed by Scotland's pace and accuracy was bad enough but then to succumb so tamely to a very ordinary France was nothing short of dreadful.

So, with all this in mind, and an unbeaten home record to defend since his tenure began in 2015, Jones has performed fairly radical surgery on his side.

With skipper Dylan Hartley back from injury and Owen Farrell moved to out-half, England will have leadership in key positions and direct challenges to Rory Best and Johnny Sexton.

Ben Te'o redeployed at 12 also has the makings of a direct response to Bundee Aki.

George Kruis and Kyle Sinckler's selections are also about meeting fire with fire though massive efforts at the breakdown - where England have been so wanting - will be required of the altered back-row having James Haskell and Sam Simmonds on board.

Tellingly, it looks more like a selection purely designed to thwart Ireland rather than one picked by a confident coach.

Another loss, though, and England are officially in crisis.

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