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Jones backs Farrell to avoid citing

The fly-half appeared to lead with the shoulder in tackling Andre Esterhuizen at the end of England 12-11 win over South Africa.

England head coach Eddie Jones laughed off the prospect of Owen Farrell being cited for a dangerous tackle at the end of Saturday’s 12-11 win over South Africa.

Farrell landed a difficult kick in the 73rd minute that ultimately decided the Quilter International at Twickenham.

But the Saracens fly-half was then under the spotlight as controversy reigned in injury time.

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Owen Farrell’s tackle on South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen could invite scrutiny from disciplinary chiefs (Adam Davy/PA Images)

He appeared to lead with the shoulder in tackling Andre Esterhuizen, an offence that under the current crackdown on dangerous tackles could have resulted in a red card being issued by referee Angus Gardner.

The Australian official decided Farrell’s tackle was legal, however, to deny South Africa a kickable penalty that would have won the game.

A retrospective citing could yet follow in the next 24 hours, potentially jeopardising Farrell’s place in next Saturday’s Test with world champions New Zealand.

Jones said: “You can get cited for something you did at a party when you were 15, anything could happen.

“A good thing is when I was 15 we didn’t have iPhones. We had little Nokia phones. They didn’t have a camera.

“I’ve got no idea what can happen.”

If it was all legal we should start tackling like that. South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus’ response to the Farrell incident was laced with sarcasm.

“If it was a shoulder charge the referee would’ve penalised him and we had a chance to win the game,” Erasmus said.

“It was a good tackle, well done, because I haven’t seen Andre Esterhuizen being tackled like that in a while.

“If it was all legal – and I didn’t have a good look at the replay – we should start tackling like that.

“It’s obviously something that’s really effective. We should look on it and execute it like that.”

England ended a five-match winless streak with victory over South Africa in the third June Test in Cape Town and have now won two straight games ahead of the visit of world champions New Zealand to Twickenham next Saturday.

Jones bristled when asked if Saturday’s win was the most significant of his near-three-year reign.

“Most important thing is what we do next,” the Australian said.

“I don’t understand this guys. We’re a bloody good team. We’ve lost a few games, we played tough and we won.

“Why has it got to be the most important game? Because you guys (the media) want to sack me, is that why?

“You’re going to do it at some stage, you know that. If I stay long enough you’re going to get me sacked, so one day you’re going to be happy.”

What impressed Jones most was the defensive display, masterminded by new defence coach John Mitchell, with England standing firm despite South Africa placing their hosts under siege for virtually the entire first half.

“When you get in those arm wrestles, someone’s got to give. We didn’t give,” Jones added.

Jones hinted at frustration with the penalties conceded, though, and Maro Itoje was sin-binned early on.

He said: “To beat the New Zealanders you’ve got to be unbelievably disciplined. (And) you’ve got to understand their weaknesses.”

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Courtney Lawes could be fit to face New Zealand, Eddie Jones hinted on Saturday (Ben Birchall/PA Images)

Jones said lock Courtney Lawes and centre Manu Tuilagi could come into contention against the All Blacks following injury, while he refused to rule out flanker Tom Curry, who required crutches after hobbling off in the second half.

England have not played the 2011 and 2015 world champions for four years.

“New Zealand’s a different kettle of fish to the Springboks,” Jones added.

“They play the game differently. They want the game to be an athletic contest. We won’t be wearing singlets and running shorts out there.

“It’ll be a proper game of rugby. We’ll just wait and see.”

Erasmus added that lock Eben Etzebeth could be out of the remaining November Tests, with France, Scotland and Wales, with an ankle injury.

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