Eddie Jones jokes he will visit Japanese temples to "pray really hard" before embracing England's presence in the World Cup's 'Group of Death'.

The reality is that the England coach has dismissed notions of being daunted by the draw and insisted he relished the fact England had again been drawn in the toughest group.

Where others might have been crestfallen by the prospect of facing France and Argentina, along, perhaps, with the United States and Samoa, raising the possibility that England could exit at the pool stage for the second time in succession, Jones was adamant the experience would be to their benefit as they seek a second World Cup. It was a view against the grain but Jones was persuasive.

"You've got to be bullet-proof by the time you get to the tournament, good enough to win those games or you can't expect to win a World Cup," said Jones. "We've got to be good enough to cope with the draw.

Advertisement

"It is good for us and it will keep us on our toes. It's where New Zealand have suffered previously. They had very easy pool games and, if you have easy games in the pools, it doesn't set you up for the quarter-finals.

"No one wants to get ahead of themselves but you need to be right for the knockout stages. In a World Cup, generally the most crucial game is the quarter-final because you are usually playing a team you should beat. And you've got to be at your best for that game. How do you expect to win a World Cup if you can't beat Wales in the quarter-final, even though they are a good team?

"We've got to find ways to become bullet-proof and we've got two years to do it. I don't want to be bullet-proof now. Even James Bond is not bullet-proof for the whole movie. There are times when he is susceptible. You need to peak at the right time.

"The defeat in Dublin showed that we're not bullet-proof. The more games you go through undefeated [England won 18 in succession], you do get that perception of being bullet-proof. The thing I've always struggled with in English rugby is complacency. If there is any way our team can be complacent now, then we have got the wrong people."

It was a passionate advocacy of where he believes England ought to be when they arrive at the 2019 World Cup: fearful of no one, ready to take on all-comers.

Every time the 'Pool of Death' sobriquet was raised, Jones rejected the term, essentially stating that it was an invention of the media. When asked about the splendid backdrop to the draw - where dignitaries clinked champagne glasses in the reception room at the Kyoto State Guest House - and the revered sites all around the ancient former capital, Jones did quip: "It's me that needs to visit the temples, isn't it, and pray really hard."

Jones believes that England are on their way to his oft-stated aspiration of being credible contenders and winning the World Cup. In that regard, he is right not to be daunted by facing what he calls "the most improved side in world rugby" in France, and a Pumas side that has been remarkably productive at World Cups, reaching the knockout stages four times and the semifinals twice.

France coach Guy Noves agreed. "England were, with New Zealand, the scarecrow that everyone wanted to avoid."

The precise fixture schedule will be drawn up in September, although it is clear that England could face New Zealand in the semifinals, if both win their groups and quarter-finals.

It was up to other coaches to put the measure of England's predicament in perspective, with Warren Gatland, coach of the Wales side that triggered Stuart Lancaster's downfall with their pool-stage win in 2015, commenting that his team's 2019 pool with Australia (as in 2015) and Georgia, was "a bit better than in 2015 and we are reasonably happy with it".

Ireland, too, had few complaints about the make-up of their pool, with Scotland and hosts Japan as the designated teams, along with two more qualifiers. Ireland play two tests against Japan next month.