Eddie Jones: Core of my England squad are showing the wrong attitude

By Mick Clearly

England's coach Eddie Jones holds a ball on the pitch before the Six Nations international rugby match between France and England. Photo / AP.
England's coach Eddie Jones holds a ball on the pitch before the Six Nations international rugby match between France and England. Photo / AP.

Eddie Jones has made it clear to several members of his Grand Slam-winning England squad that they will not make the tour to Australia in June unless they sharpen up their attitude.

The England head coach has identified "four or five" players whom he believes have got carried away with the team's success and let their standards slip.

There have been no face-to-face confrontations with the players, who are on club duty, and although the Australian refused to reveal names, he insisted that they knew who they were.

Jones also disclosed that he was actively looking into fast-tracking Ben Te'o, Sam Burgess's former rugby league second-row team-mate at the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Born in Auckland to an English mother, Te'o will join Worcester from Leinster at the end of the ­season. It a sure sign that Jones is looking to freshen things up.

"The team can't sit still," said Jones. "There's an old political adage, 'you want to fix the roof when the sun's still shining', and that's what we want to do. We've got to improve the team and find better, younger players who are faster, more agile, more skilful and more desirous. If you look at the 32 or 33 players we used for the Six Nations, 27 or 28 of those players have played with distinction [since then].

"They've gone back to their clubs, they've played at international standard, they've added to their teams. There are four or five who haven't and those guys are on ­notice they won't be going on tour unless they change their approach to their play. They have not put their bodies on the line for their clubs.

"We don't ask England players to play tactically with their clubs, but we expect that attitude because it's a habit. They have agents, people telling them how good they are, they read the newspapers, they ­listen to the TV commentators.

"It's hard in England, it's one of the most difficult things about ­English rugby. The media here is intense, they are all looking for headlines, for a good story, everyone wants to have heroes. These guys get their heads filled. You have agents saying: wear these shoes, this guy will look after you, you are fantastic, they are good-game people slapping them on the back ­telling them how good they are.

"Before they left [the Six Nations camp] I knew who they were. They need to sort themselves out otherwise their English careers will be something that's a good memory for them and the only guys they will have to talk to are the agents.

"You have good habits or bad habits. We don't have time to change bad habits. It's not about talent, it's about attitude."

Jones would appear to have no qualms about pitching Te'o into the fray as an inside centre. The only impediment is to whether he is a registered Worcester player in June. He was an absolutely outstanding rugby league player. He can go through the line, he has a short passing line and he hits. You don't want to run down his channel when he is defending at 12. Potentially we are going to have three world-class options at 12: Tuilagi, Te'o and Farrell."

Jones believes Exeter's Henry Slade, who missed the Six Nations through injury, needs to deliver some standout performances. The Australia had singular praise for his captain, Dylan Hartley, who is ­expected to return from concussion shortly, believing that he has all the credentials to take the team through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

"Dylan's got the ability to tell young blokes and old blokes to pull up their socks," said Jones. "That's quite unique these days. Everybody is educated to be polite and nice. People don't want to put themselves ahead of other people. Everyone who has held up a [World Cup] ­trophy has been an outstanding leader. If Dylan keeps doing well, he could be that leader for 2019."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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