Defeated England know what they need to fix, insists coach Eddie Jones
UNDER-PRESSURE England coach Eddie Jones maintains he can turn his labouring side around despite their worst Six Nations in 35 years.
They spluttered to a third successive defeat as Ireland won 24-15 at Twickenham to claim a third Grand Slam on Saturday.
Pitiful England finished fifth, their worst Championship return since coming bottom of the Five Nations in 1983.
Only perennial minnows Italy sat below them in the table and it is a sobering thought ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan and with a taxing tour to South Africa this summer.
Record-breaking Jones, of course, won 24 of his opening 25 Tests as England chief before this losing sequence started so his position is not under imminent threat. But having earlier suggested gifted young lock Maro Itoje may be suffering from a ‘second-season’ syndrome, the Australian was asked if the whole squad is now suffering the same.
“When you have had the first two years that we have had, the third season was always going to be difficult,” said Jones, who admitted he would be “lying” if he said he knew what had gone wrong of late.
“I don’t stand here saying I knew it would happen, but it was always going to be difficult because we shot up and we fixed some easy things.
“When you have a team that hasn’t been successful and there are a number of things that are wrong there are some easy things to fix and you fix those.
“But harder things keep surfacing and are harder to fix. We are in the process of fixing them. What I am certain about is that we know what we need to fix.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland earlier suggested this losing run could stretch to six with that Springboks challenge looming, but Jones does not believe that is a difficult place to regain confidence.
“No, it’s a good place, because we can get the team together and work together, day-in, day-out,” he said, while admitting he may yet rest some of his British Lions contingent for the trip in June.
“It’s going to be fantastic for us and they (Boks) are going to be a rejuvenated team.”
It was only Ireland’s third Grand Slam and coach Joe Schmidt said: “The pure resilience in the eight minutes after half-time to defend our line was exceptional. That just summed us up. There’s a lot of pride there.”