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Eddie Jones hits back at Bath owner over criticism of training methods

Bruce Craig declared the quantity of injuries sustained during England camps “totally unacceptable”.


Eddie Jones takes his England side to South Africa this week (Paul Harding/PA)

Eddie Jones takes his England side to South Africa this week (Paul Harding/PA)

Eddie Jones takes his England side to South Africa this week (Paul Harding/PA)

Eddie Jones has ignited a club versus country row by telling Bath owner Bruce Craig that he is unqualified to criticise his methods during England training sessions.

Ben Te’o is the latest player to be hurt after the powerful Worcester centre aggravated a thigh problem first sustained in the NatWest 6 Nations when performing a weights session last week, rendering him unable to tour South Africa next month.

It raises the number of casualties sustained during England camps under Jones to 15 with five of those incurred by Bath players.

Craig has declared that the quantity of injuries is “totally unacceptable” and stated “there has got to be significant questions asked about duty of care”, adding “what is going on in the camp?”.

England’s head coach returned fire on Wednesday by insisting his methods are necessary to prepare a team for the international arena.

“I don’t have any concerns. We train appropriately for Test match rugby,” Jones told Sky Sports.

“The only reason I’d alter it is if we need to train harder, or we need to train lighter, to be at our best for Test matches.

“We prepare players for Test matches. I don’t think anyone at a club has the right to tell a coach how to train a Test team.”

Jones added on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I haven’t seen any figures to suggest the number of injuries are unacceptable.

“No-one on our staff has suggested they are, but Bruce is obviously an expert in training-ground injuries, so I’ll have to be subservient to his greater knowledge.”

Te’o, who was set to start at outside centre in the series opener at Ellis Park on June 9, must undergo surgery but should be fit for the start of next season.

“Benny was tight after a weights session – during the weights session when he was doing a lift he felt some tightness about his knee,” Jones said.

“He was scanned and it showed he had an old tear from the Six Nations game against France, and therefore it was too big a risk to take him on tour.

“The injury is one of those corks and when you’ve got a cork you’ve always got damage to the muscle. Sometimes they repair and sometimes they don’t. He’ll be back for the start of the season.”

Doubt persists over the fitness of Billy Vunipola, whose return from a fractured arm has been followed by persistent hamstring issues.

The giant number eight played a bit-part role in Saracens’ successful Aviva Premiership play-off campaign, culminating in a 59-minute stint in Saturday’s victory over Exeter, but he could still miss the series opener against the Springboks.

“We still have a concern over his hamstring and how fit he is going to be,” Jones said.

“It’s still a little bit tight so we have just got to be careful with him. He might be right for Saturday week.

“We have gone through a long period without Billy and while he’s a great player we have been able to cope without him.

“We want him back in the side, but if he’s not we will work out another way to play.”