Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

The risks involved in warm-up matches worth taking: Jones


Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones

By Duncan Bech

Eddie Jones accepts the hazards involved in playing four warm-up Tests as the necessary cost of properly preparing England for the World Cup.

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

The danger of playing full-blooded internationals was cruelly underlined at Twickenham last Sunday when Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe suffered a serious knee injury that has ruled him out of Japan 2019.

In the same match, England lost their outstanding openside Tom Curry to a shoulder injury that has made him unavailable for the return fixture against the Grand Slam champions in Cardiff.

The prospect of losing the likes of captain Owen Farrell or second-row Maro Itoje - both of whom return today - so close to the tournament is alarming, but Jones insists that protecting his stars would be counter-productive.

"I don't worry about injuries. You can put them in cotton wool but then they'd not be ready for the World Cup," Jones said.

"You've just got to get on with it and that's the way it always has been. It's the risk you take.

"It's like a boxer - a boxer's got to box. A rugby player's got to play rugby. There's a risk involved.

"If they get injured you feel for the player but then look to see who the next best is.

"It's about getting players fit and hard and experimenting with a few areas and then hopefully have the 31 selected on the plane."

Warren Gatland has accepted criticism from former players of Wales for his decision to play four warm-up matches but for Jones they are essential.

"Because we have a squad of 31 we need four games to get the necessary game time for everyone," Jones said.

"We've got two games in four days at the World Cup and the reality is that most of the squad will probably play in those first two games so we need the four games to be ready."

Ruaridh McConnochie has suffered another setback.

He was due to make his international debut against Gatland's men last weekend but was withdrawn due to a hip problem.

The Bath wing, a sevens specialist who won a silver medal with Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics, is 50-50 to pull through after incurring muscle soreness.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph