Jones lashes out at Bath owner over England injuries complaint
REACTION: Eddie Jones has fanned the flames of a club versus country row by telling Bruce Craig that the Bath owner has no business criticising his England training regime.
Ben Te’o became the latest player to be injured while with the England squad after the Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesday that the Worcester centre had been ruled out of next month’s three-Test tour of South Africa.
The player aggravated a thigh problem he first suffered during the Six Nations Championship when taking part in a weights session last week.
That took the total number of players injured in camps since Jones took over as England coach after the 2015 World Cup to 15, with five of those coming from Bath.
Beno Obano, the Bath loosehead prop, could be out for up to a year after rupturing ligaments and muscles in his knee and hamstring a fortnight ago during an England training camp in Brighton.
Even more seriously, Wasps flank Sam Jones had to retire aged just 26 earlier this year after suffering an ankle injury wrestling Maro Itoje during a judo session at a training camp in October 2016.
The RFU could yet face legal action from Jones, who did not receive the full safety briefing and was sent to hospital in a taxi.
Craig said the number of injuries sustained by players while with England is “totally unacceptable”, insisting “there has got to be significant questions asked about duty of care”, and adding “what is going on in the camp?”.
But Jones, a former head coach of both his native Australia and Japan, insisted he had no qualms about the methods he employed to get players ready for the often brutal rigours of international rugby union.
“I don’t have any concerns. We train appropriately for Test match rugby,” Jones told Sky Sports.
“The only reason I’d alter it is if we need to train harder, or we need to train lighter, to be at our best for Test matches.
“We prepare players for Test matches. I don’t think anyone at a club has the right to tell a coach how to train a Test team.”
Jones also told BBC Radio: “I haven’t seen any figures to suggest the number of injuries are unacceptable.
“No-one on our staff has suggested they are, but Bruce is obviously an expert in training-ground injuries, so I’ll have to be subservient to his greater knowledge,” the Australian added sarcastically.
Te’o, who was in line to start at outside centre in the series opener against the Springboks at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park on June 9, is now facing surgery but should be fit for the start of the 2018/19 European season.
“Benny was tight after a weights session – during the weights session when he was doing a lift he felt some tightness about his knee,” Jones said.
“He was scanned and it showed he had an old tear from the Six Nations game against France, and therefore it was too big a risk to take him on tour.”
Meanwhile, there are concerns over Billy Vunipola’s fitness, with the return of the No.8 from a fractured arm followed by persistent hamstring trouble.
Vunipola was on the field for nearly an hour of Saracens’ victory over Exeter in the English Premiership final at Twickenham last weekend but the powerhouse loose forward could still miss the first Test against South Africa.
“We still have a concern over his hamstring and how fit he is going to be,” Jones said.
“We have gone through a long period without Billy and while he’s a great player we have been able to cope without him.
“We want him back in the side, but if he’s not we will work out another way to play.”
England finished a hugely disappointing fifth in this season’s Six Nations, after back-to-back titles, and are now on a run of four straight defeats following a 45-63 loss to the Barbarians in a non-cap international match at Twickenham on Sunday.