Jones wants England to evolve in 2018

Head coach Eddie Jones wants England to adapt their style in 2018 to changes he expects teams to make ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The squad gathered in Brighton for a two-day training camp ahead of England’s opening match of the NatWest 6 Nations against Italy on 4 February in Rome.

As well as England aiming to be at the forefront of any changes in the game, Jones says the squad must be flexible during matches for different challenges in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

“The game is evolving," he said. "I think defence is going to evolve over the next 24 months as sides have defended in a certain way and I think that’s going to change because of law interpretation changes, and we want to be at the head of that queue of how you want to defend.

“In attack, that will be a consequence of defence changing that you’ll need to be able to attack in a number of ways.

"Knowing the variants of environments we could find in Japan where our first two games are under a dome, so they’re going to be almost perfect conditions, and generally in those sort of conditions a kicking game is important and a running game is important, and that seems contradictory but it’s not.

“Then at Yokohama and Tokyo we could be playing in pouring rain and then your short game becomes important, and the ability to punch holes and play through them, so developing that adaptability and awareness of how to attack depending on the conditions is so important for us."

New faces 

Bath prop Beno Obano and Newcastle Falcons flanker Gary Graham were both called up to the England squad for the first time, while Henry Thomas (Bath) and Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish) were added to the squad after the weekend following injuries.

Despite the short time with the squad, Jones was pleased with how everyone approached the two-day camp.

“Attitude has been absolutely first class, really impressed by the players," he added.. 

“I’ve been really impressed by the two new blokes we’ve brought in, Beno Obano and Gary Graham, they’ve done really well at the camp.

“Graham reminds me a bit of Robshaw so he’s not an out and out seven but he’s a good tough boy, he’s got a nice demeanour about him, hungry so very impressive."

“He’s [Obano] a good rap singer," joked Jones. "He’s quite entertaining, he did a bit of a song in the first team meeting. He’s a character and potentially he’s going to be a good player but he’s got a hell of a lot of physical work to do."

Billy's back

Another positive from the Brighton gathering has been the return to training of Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola. "He’s one of the best players in the world."

He has only recently returned to fitness following surgery on his knee but Jones is unsure whether he will be available to play in the Six Nations yet.

“We’re always hopeful that he’s going to be fit and ready to go as when he’s at his best he’s one of the best players in the world," he said.

“When you look at running metres per team, the top three teams in the world are Australia, New Zealand and France and it is one of the key metrics of winning rugby at the moment - we don’t feature in the top three.

“Running metres is a lot of it about athleticism and he is one of our most athletic players as he’s a big guy, he’s fast and he’s got good feet, so his ability to carry through traffic is just so important."

For information on ticket-inclusive travel options to see Eddie Jones and the team at Rugby World Cup 2019™ in Japan, visit England Rugby Travel. 

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