Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Six Nations

Jones in rallying cry over Slam win

By Duncan Bech

Eddie Jones has urged England to earn the right to "beat their chest" by seizing the ultimate prize in the northern hemisphere.

Only France stand before the newly-crowned RBS 6 Nations champions and a first Grand Slam since Martin Johnson's World Cup winners of 2003 swept all before them when the rivals collide in the climax to the tournament in Paris.

Jones has already ended the five-year wait for silverware and a run of four successive runners-up finishes in his debut campaign as England's head coach, but the Australian refuses to celebrate what he views as a job half done.

"A Grand Slam means you've beaten everyone and that gives you a right to beat your chest a little bit," said Jones, who added his overwhelming priority is to win the 2019 World Cup.

"We haven't done anything yet. We've got the Six Nations trophy, but it doesn't feel like that. Once we beat France on Saturday it will feel like that.

"France away for a Grand Slam is a great test. The first 20 minutes is going to be a good physical test, but this is also a great mental test."

Jones makes no apology for his conviction that England will depart the Stade de France with a 13th clean sweep in the tournament.

"We're the better team and we have to believe we're the better team. If you go into Grand Slam games thinking you're not the better team you are going to get beaten," he said.

"Why have we won the trophy with one game to spare? It's not because we are inferior to the other teams.

"So we have to go out there and perform like that. If we can't handle that then we're not as good as we think we are and we have to get better.

"The potential of this team is to start winning silverware and that's the opportunity on Saturday night."

If France foil the Grand Slam quest it will be in defiance of the form book as the appointment of a new head coach in Guy Noves has failed to provide the same post-World Cup uplift as Jones' arrival at Twickenham.

They would relish the chance to mute English celebrations but have been poor throughout the Six Nations with only bottom-placed Italy scoring fewer tries.

Jones has made two changes with prop Mako Vunipola and scrum-half Danny Care starting at the expense of Joe Marler and Ben Youngs in anticipation that their pace and dynamism around the field will help nullify the opening-quarter onslaught he is expecting from France.

Marler has been at the centre of the disrupted build-up to the Paris showdown after admitting his guilt to separate offences of striking and verbal abuse against Wales front rows Rob Evans and Samson Lee last Saturday.

However, the Harlequins loosehead escaped sanction from the Six Nations disciplinary committee, which is now having to provide details of its investigation to World Rugby following an outcry over the verdict. Wales' response to the outcome prompted Jones to accuse them of deliberately attempting to derail their Grand Slam bid, but he has also welcomed the week's off-field diversion.

"It is just part of the build-up to a game. I think most big games you play there is always something that is not right and you always have to just cope with that," he said.

"If you have the perfect preparation it is probably not a great preparation. You need to have a bit of something that makes you just keep you on edge."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph