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Jones taunts Wales coach Gatland over third-place battle


Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

England coach Eddie Jones has had one final swipe at Warren Gatland, wishing the departing Wales coach well in the third/fourth play-off on Friday.

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Wales will battle it out with the All Blacks for World Cup bronze after they were beaten by South Africa on Sunday, with Gatland wondering afterwards if England's dethroning of the back-to-back champions was to be 'their final'.

"We have seen in previous World Cups that teams sometimes play their final in the semi-finals. It will be interesting to see how England are," quipped the outgoing Welsh head coach.

Speaking yesterday as his side aims for a second Webb Ellis trophy on Saturday, Jones fired back.

"Can you just send my best wishes to Warren and make sure he enjoys the third-fourth place play-off," Jones asked wryly of the media.

On to more serious matters, he added: "We have had a day or two of recovery and started a little bit of preparation today, but the players understand they haven't done anything yet and the most important week is coming up, and what I sense is the excitement about what the team can achieve this week."

South Africa could hardly have reached the final in a more contrasting style to England's dominating semi-final win, edging their way past the Welsh in a dour arm-wrestle that featured 81 kicks from hand.

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"The only thing we are really worried about is how the Springboks turn up on Saturday," Jones said.

"They won a tough semi-final, and when you are in the final of the World Cup you have done a lot of good things right.

"They are a massively aggressive forward pack and they played their stronger team in the second half, as opposed to the first half.

"They are going to be a difficult side to beat, but we will enjoy the preparations. We know a couple of areas where we think we can expose them and will make sure we are good in those areas.

"Rassie (Erasmus) is a cunning coach and has done a great job with the Springboks.

"We are prepared for the unexpected and they can play different ways.

"You saw Faf de Klerk doing 15-20 box kicks. Handre Pollard is an excellent kicker of the ball and he was smooth and had a nice touch on the ball.

"They can play differently, but also know they can come through the front door. Not many Springbok teams you play don't come through the front door, so we will be ready at the front door and have enough cover for the back door if that happens."

Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer is set to bench behind Ben Youngs in Yokohama after Willi Heinz suffered a hamstring injury in the semi-final.

Spencer arrived in Japan yesterday and, should he see action, would be winning just his fourth cap.

"It is tough for Willi," Jones confirmed. "He's been a great contributor and very well-liked member of the squad and was in tears in the dressing room. It's tough for him.

"He has collected himself and knows he has another role to do for us and will fulfil it well this week.

"Ben has been in and around the squad for the last couple of years and knows the game and knows the players and is a fit guy and fits in quickly.

"We said to the guys outside the 31 that they need to be ready to go.

"It is a great opportunity ahead of him. He has to learn a few new things and Willi and Ben (Youngs) will help him with that.

"The task in hand is no different from any other player, he just has to learn a bit more and get himself physically and mentally ready."

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