VIDEO: It is 'not a 100m sprint'
WORLD CUP REACTION: England coach Eddie Jones insisted the global showpiece was “not a 100-metre sprint”.
Jones defended his side’s error-strewn 35-3 win over Tonga in their tournament opener in Sapporo on Sunday.
Manu Tuilagi scored two first-half tries before two more after the break from Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie secured a bonus-point win that could yet prove important in a tightly contested Pool C.
England didn’t concede a try and also appeared to avoid injuries to key players ahead of a short turnaround to their second group game against the United States on Thursday.
“The only thing we have to worry about – and I’m sorry to disappoint you here – is the United States game, and we’ve just got to be a little bit better again,” Jones told reporters.
“The thing about the World Cup, having been to a few, is the World Cup is not a 100-metre sprint,” he added.
“So you don’t have to come out of the blocks and be absolutely fantastic now, what you have to be is steady, you have to be prudent and you have to have a mindset of improvement and that’s what we’ve got.”
Jones was in charge of his native Australia when they lost the 2003 World Cup Final to England and was a consultant to 2007 champions South Africa, before masterminding Japan’s shock win over the Springboks in England four years ago.
It was mission accomplished as far as he was concerned, for all that England made some 13 handling errors.
“We came here to get five points, we got five points. We got no injuries, we know we can play better.
“Sometimes rugby is like that, the ball just doesn’t stick,” he insisted. “We left a number of points out there.
“But I’m so pleased with the attitude of the players. That’s two Tests in a row we haven’t conceded a try. That shows a bit about the attitude of the team.”
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Jones said the fact England had been patient enough to score their fourth, bonus-point try just three minutes from time meant they had learnt a lesson from outstanding football manager Alex Ferguson, whose successful Manchester United teams were renowned for their late goals.
“During the lead-up to the World Cup we had a number of coaches and special guests in,” said Jones.
“One guy we were lucky enough to have in was Alex Ferguson.
“He was renowned for, what did they use to call it? – ‘Fergie time’,” said Jones.
“The message was: ‘Be patient’. That’s what I enjoyed about our team today. There was no sign of panic, we just kept on playing good rugby and the try comes.
“It might have been easier if it came a little bit earlier, but it came! That’s a good sign for the team.”
Tuilagi’s career has been blighted by injuries, with his two tries on Sunday his first at the World Cup for eight years.
“I think for Manu, he’s increasingly getting close to his best,” said Jones.
“He’s training well, he’s in great physical nick… Manu is only going to get better as the tournament goes on.”
This was only the second rugby match played at the Sapporo Dome following Saturday’s World Cup encounter between Australia and Fiji and Jones said: “What a great thing for rugby today. You are up in Hokkaido, closer to Russia than you probably want to be and you have 45,000 people there.
“It’s a great atmosphere, you’ve got Tonga, a country of 100,000 people, battling their heart out, playing tough, the crowd’s getting involved and we’ve got to play tough to get a result.
“I thought it was a great day for rugby.”