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Jones keeping focus on Barbarians and not England future

The head coach has a contract with the RFU until 2021.

England head coach Eddie Jones has a contract with the RFU until 2021 (David Davies/PA)
England head coach Eddie Jones has a contract with the RFU until 2021 (David Davies/PA)

By George Sessions, PA

Eddie Jones is only thinking about the Barbarians this week after refusing to talk about his future as England head coach.

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The Australian will be in charge of the invitational side on Saturday when they do battle with Fiji at Twickenham.

It will take place only two weeks after Jones’ England lost to South Africa in the World Cup final and he has a number of Springboks in this Barbarians squad.

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Eddie Jones has his focus on the Barbarians rather than England’s World Cup defeat (Adam Davy/PA)

His contract with the Rugby Football Union is only until 2021, but earlier this month RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney admitted it “makes sense” for the 59-year-old to continue until the World Cup 2023 in France.

“The only thing I’ve been worried about this week is coaching the Barbarians. It’s a highly enjoyable experience and it’s a great honour,” Jones said.

“There is nothing to think about. It is done and dusted. I can’t do anything about what’s happened. The only thing I can do is what I do next.

“The next thing I’m going to do is make sure this Barbarians’ side play some great rugby, so that’s the only thing I’m worried about. All that stuff is for you guys, you love it.”

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World Cup winner Tendai Mtawarira will line up against Fiji (Joe Giddens/PA)

South Africa World Cup winners Tendai Mtawarira, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi are in Jones’ Barbarians squad for this Killik Cup match.

But England’s head coach holds no ill feelings against them, adding: “Not at all, we are happy for them.

“I think Bobby Robson had that great turn ‘there is one happy dressing room and one sad dressing room and you want to be in the happy dressing room as much as you can, but if you are in the sad dressing room you appreciate the happiness the other team has’.

“It is wonderful those guys want to come and play for the Barbarians. We have three of them and it’s nice to see they want to give something back to the game.

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England defence coach John Mitchell will assist Jones for the Barbarians match (Adam Davy/PA)

“These Barbarians games are about giving something back to the rugby community. We have already got 50,000 people coming on Saturday, which is terrific, and we want to play well and put on a really good performance.”

Assisting Jones this week is John Mitchell, who is also England’s defence coach and he was reluctant to talk about the events in Japan as well.

“It’s the past. Naturally people are disappointed and that is life. You feel for the boys because they put so much into it, but you’ve got to find a way to move forward,” Mitchell said.

“You always have to find a way to move forward in life so we’re very fortunate to come into an environment like this where it’s all about why you love the game.”

Former Ireland captain Rory Best will skipper the Barbarians and make one final appearance before retiring.

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Rory Best will make one final appearance before retirement (Adam Davy/PA)

He was set to quit the sport after the World Cup, with the 46-14 defeat to New Zealand in the quarter-finals expected to be the hooker’s last outing.

“Obviously it was disappointing to go home when we did,” Best added. “You come off the back of the World Cup and take a few days to lick your wounds.

“I hope to sign off my rugby career with hopefully a better result with this Barbarians team.

“To finally be a part of it and to put on that black and white jersey is something that very quickly focuses your mind back again after the disappointment.

“It goes back to the core values of rugby; having fun, meeting people, getting to know people over a week and going out and trying to be the best version of ourselves on Saturday.”

PA

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