England coach Jones reveals his future plans
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Eddie Jones has insisted he will be leaving his job as England boss following the 2023 World Cup in France.
It was in 2016, following his breakthrough exploits with Japan at the 2015 World Cup, that Jones was first snapped up by the RFU to replace the shelved Stuart Lancaster.
It was January 2018 when the Australian initially signed a contract extension that would take him through until 2021 but it was subsequently agreed in April 2020 that Jones, the best-paid coach in world rugby, would take the England team through to the next World Cup and he has now confirmed that the tournament in France will be his last involvement.
Asked at the naming of his 45-man squad for next week’s mini training camp if a line had been drawn in the sand in the countdown to the tournament where England are looking to go one step further than in 2019 when beaten finalists, Jones agreed it was a new era for his team.
“100 per cent and it’s the last chapter for me, the last two years. So I have never been so excited in my life and the squad we have assembled is just the start,” Jones said.
“We have got five campaigns and each time we pick the squad we want the squad to be a bit stronger. Next time we are going to have some of those Lions players who have been left out competing at their best and the competition is going to get even hotter, so it’s a fantastic time to be a part of the team.
“Rugby is evolving nicely, we have been through some difficult times but the game is evolving nicely, the refereeing is starting to get a little more consistent around the breakdown which is allowing teams to play with a bit more freedom and space because the ball is quicker and we want to take the game forward and be the best in the world.
“Since 2016, our squad is becoming increasingly more diverse and a greater range of ages. Now we got from the oldest bloke, 31, 32, probably Benny Youngs is 31 to 18, 19-year-olds.
“We have got a great spread of players, a great spread of different backgrounds and we want the leadership group to reflect that diversity and that is what we intend to do. I have got a few ideas how we want to do it and I want to talk to players before we elaborate on it.”
No removal of the England captaincy from the struggling Owen Farrell is envisaged, however.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old has endured a difficult 2021 with England and he also faded on the recent Lions tour, but Jones isn’t writing off England skipper just yet.
“I’m not here to talk about the Lions. Go on one of the chat shows and they will tell you all about the Lions. I am not a television commentator.
“All I am worried about is this minicamp, all I am worried about is getting Owen Farrell back to his best. He hasn’t been at his best over the last period of time but I am convinced that I can get him back to his best and then we will decide on the leadership of the team but at this stage, there is no reason why he won’t be captain.
“There are a number of reasons,” added Jones when asked why Farrell has been off colour with England and his other teams.
“He had covid before the Six Nations, his team was in the Championship, they had spasmodic training sessions, he didn’t get high-quality games and they played back to back seasons.
“You look at South Africa at the moment how they are struggling after ten weeks in the bubble.
“This has been a difficult period for the players. Some players have reacted well and some players haven’t reacted well. For some players, we’ll decide we are going to give them a rest and for other players, they need to get back in to stoke the fires. I have got no doubt that Owen will be back to his best soon .”
By Liam Heagney, Rugbypass