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Youngs: England players will look out for each other to avoid off-field issues

Eddie Jones’ men face Tonga in their World Cup opener on September 22.

Ben Youngs is a World Cup veteran (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)
Ben Youngs is a World Cup veteran (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent, Miyazaki

England will adopt a self-policing approach to drinking in Japan to ensure there is no repeat of the controversies that blighted the most recent overseas World Cup.

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Eddie Jones’ squad have touched down in Miyazaki, the setting for a week-long training camp where they will step up preparations for their tournament opener against Tonga on September 22.

Jones has allowed alcohol to be consumed throughout his reign as head coach and the policy will remain in place over the forthcoming campaign to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.

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Eddie Jones’ England are in the same pool as France, Argentina, USA and Tonga (Adam Davy/PA)

At the 2011 World Cup, Martin Johnson’s England became embroiled in a series of off-field incidents that undermined their pursuit of the sport’s greatest prize and also stained Twickenham’s reputation.

Ben Youngs was present in New Zealand eight years ago and as a senior player, has been involved in shaping the approach taken to Japan.

“We’ve addressed the elephant in the room and spoken about how off-field stuff can bring unneeded attention that affects momentum,” the Leicester scrum-half said.

If guys want to have a drink, that's not a problem. The guys will police each other and make sure everyone makes the right decision. Ben Youngs

“Sometimes guys will get it wrong but in this group I think guys will look out for each other. We want to see Japan and have down time.

“If guys want to have a drink, that’s not a problem. The guys will police each other and make sure everyone makes the right decision.

“If you’re putting the team first then that’s the main thing. I’ll be surprised if boys want to have a drink.

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Martin Johnson was head coach of England at the 2011 World Cup (David Davies/PA)

“You’ve just got to be smart adults. You’re representing the country and you’re representing each other.

“What you do has a knock-on effect on your team-mates and I feel this group is mature enough to make the right decisions. Hopefully we won’t face any of those issues.”

After being subjected to a five-hour delay on arrival into Tokyo on Monday due to the fallout from Typhoon Faxai, England enjoyed more harmonious transit to the south western island of Kyushu where Miyazaki is situated.

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England are in Japan ahead of the start of their World Cup campaign on September 22 (Steve Parsons/PA)

A small but noisy crowd gathered at the airport to greet the players as they funnelled through arrivals and straight on to the team bus.

Owen Farrell and his team-mates have been told in no uncertain terms by Jones what the coming weeks could mean for the nation.

“Eddie was part of Australia when they lost in the 2003 final and he’s been part of South Africa when they won it. He said ‘boys you’ve got the opportunity to create and be part of something that will be the most amazing thing of your life’,” he said.

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Eddie Jones’ Australia were beaten by England in the final of the 2003 World Cup (David Davies/PA)

“You saw what the cricket did with the World Cup, the football World Cup too. He’s made us aware of that.

“In terms of rugby, you just have the opportunity every time you’re out there to inspire a nation and do something very special and I think this group is certainly excited by that.”

PA

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