‘It’s like the Tour de France’: Eddie Jones says England are ready to take on ‘stage two’ of their race to the World Cup summit
- Eddie Jones says ‘stage one’ of the World Cup is complete after USA victory
- Jones says his side are perfectly poised to take on ‘stage two’ of the tournament
- The England boss says it’s ‘remarkable’ he could have 31 fit players next week
England claimed the metaphorical Pool C yellow jersey as Eddie Jones likened their World Cup campaign to the Tour de France, with a gruelling hill climb lying ahead.
Having come through the opening rounds with maximum points, Jones claimed his team are now ready to take on ‘stage two’ of their race to the World Cup summit.
Bonus-point victories over Tonga and the USA have put England in poll position, but the competition is about to get stiffer in Tokyo where they face tougher Tests against Argentina and France.
England boss Eddie Jones says ‘stage one’ of the World Cup is done after victory over the USA
Jones says his side are perfectly poised ahead of ‘stage two’ of the World Cup next week
Jones has given his players two days off to recuperate ahead of Argentina and France games
Jones will now give his players two days off to recover – many have plans for family time – before they catch the bullet train to the capital city on Sunday.
‘That’s stage one of the tournament done,’ said Jones. ‘We move into stage two now which is Argentina, then we’ve got stage three, four and five. It’s like the Tour de France.
‘Points wise we’re in a great position. We’ve got all the points we can get and we’ve got a great for and against. And we’ve got no injuries. It’s remarkable. We could conceivably have 31 players available to select next week.
George Ford answered his critics with a man-of-the-match display against the USA
‘You don’t need to be in the yellow jersey now. It’s like Lance Armstrong, the percentage of time you need to be in the yellow jersey is the time that it counts, not when it doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter who’s in it now. It’s inconsequential.’
Jones has started 25 different players in the first two Tests.
His strongest starting XV is still up for debate, although man-of-the-match George Ford on Thursday answered his critics and the in-form midfield combination could be Ford, Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi.
USA coach was scathing of his own team – labelling the match the ‘Calamity in Kobe’ – but offered the highest praise for the No 10 who he coached with Bath.
‘George ran the game,’ said Gold. ‘His game management was outstanding. Between him and Willi Heinz and when Ben Youngs came on, they kept peppering us back. We were sort of anticipating they may come out and play more ball in hand with the team that they had picked this week but they did not.
England have used 25 players in their opening two World Cup games and have no injuries
‘They carried on doing what they are good at, which is suffocating and strangling the opposition. George is the puppeteer. He puts the ball in behind us, puts us under pressure, we made one or two mistakes and we paid for that. He is a master tactician. Other than the fact he is very good at what he does, he also has a very good rugby brain.’
But Jones, unsurprisingly, remained coy about his selection intentions. It is too early to determine the permutations of topping the group but, if nothing else, Jones will want to build momentum.
‘We don’t know what the weather is going to be like in Tokyo, so we need to assess that because we are seeing that is it having a significant effect on games,’ said Jones.
‘We understand they will be playing for their lives and are a passionate and proud rugby country. What is important is that we match their passion and play with a fair bit of control.
‘Argentina are obviously a very good team. We know they increasingly look capable of beating big teams so we need to be right on our game.’