England will be ordered to unleash a furious backlash against Japan at Twickenham on Saturday, following their shocking defeat to Argentina three days ago.
Eddie Jones knows his side must deliver an exciting spectacle and result against Japan before he faces daunting encounters with mighty New Zealand and South Africa later in the month.
Asked whether he prefers his team’s emotional response to the setback against the Pumas or a calm and measured response, Jones said: “I want us to be angry and play with a certain kind of anger.
Eddie Jones has supported Marcus Smith (L) and Owen Farrell to get on well as a couple
Jones said the duo will “read each other more” in their remaining 16 games together
“In many ways I am very happy with how we played against Argentina. We dominated territory and possession, but we just weren’t good enough at converting that pressure into points. To do that, we need to be a little more aggressive and assertive in the way we attack. I have no doubt that we will do that this week.
“Of course I want the anger to be under control. We know Japan always has a fast start – they always want to score early and set the pace of the game. So we must meet fire with fire early.’
In the wake of Sunday’s disappointment against Argentina, which this year marked England’s fifth defeat in nine Tests, a host of pundits called for an either-or decision between Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell during the fly-half. But Jones seems to remain fully committed to selecting the pair as a 10-12 double act.
When asked if he’s still confident the combination can work, he said, “Yeah, 100 percent. We are on four games. We have 12 games left before the World Cup. If they can play 16 games together, they understand well and start reading each other more.
“If you look at the opportunities we missed, those were small cohesion issues that improve by playing together.
England’s stars are stunned after their shocking 29-30 defeat to Argentina on Sunday
“It was also the first time Manu Tuilagi played with those two and he hadn’t played in three or four weeks.”
Jones is an avowed advocate of Farrell as an international playmaker and captain. And he reinforced the veteran’s impact against Argentina after he recovered from a head injury to lead the home side. “Owen did a good job,” Jones added. His goal kicks were impeccable. His defense was good and we created enough offensive chances to win the game. He played his part there.
“His leadership of the team was such that we never looked like we lacked balance in the game. We always looked like we were capable of winning the game. That’s a reflection of the captain.’
While Jones was as optimistic as ever about England’s prospects of near-term success, he acknowledged that future planning may have contributed to their downfall last weekend.
Jones took ‘full responsibility’ for the defeat, saying the message to his team was ‘not clear’
After taking ‘full responsibility’ for the defeat, the head coach said: ‘If your team isn’t playing to the potential you want, there’s always something in the message you give the team that isn’t quite clear.
“When I think back to the game, we looked at some long-term strategies that we are trying to use to prepare for the World Cup, and maybe our focus wasn’t tight enough on the Argentina game.
“Sometimes we lacked energy, especially in the attack. Maybe we just thought too much about it and that’s all my fault.’
However, when asked if the shock to the system would force a re-evaluation of his vision and that of England, he insisted, ‘No, not at all. There is a cluster of teams at the top of world rugby, we want to break that cluster and to do that we need to have some ways of playing the game.
“For the next 11 months, we’ll have (roughly) enough gear in our arsenal so we can play any way we want.”
Jones has called on his side to put in a better performance as they hit Japan
There may be other gear in the starting XV to beat Japan, with Jonny May looking like a strong candidate for a recall as England aim to form a high octane.
“When you see the side you’ll be glad there’s enough pace,” Jones said in response to concerns about the pace of England’s attacks. “We need pace in the back line to face the threats from Japan.”
Meanwhile, the RFU has confirmed that defense coach Anthony Seibold will leave his post after this series to take charge of Manly Sea Eagles in the Australian rugby league.
Jones has chosen to fill the vacancy with another fellow countryman, Brett Hodgson, who is now in the England camp – who is following Seibold this month before replacing him.