Eddie Jones concedes leadership is a slow-burning problem
England manager has no doubts he can turn around three-match losing streak
England coach Eddie Jones during the Six Nations defeat to Ireland at Twickenham. “We are playing without our five top backrowers at the moment.” Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Eddie Jones made Jacob Stockdale a record breaker. The England coach had a week to remember – there was the viral campaign and multiple apologies for jokingly branding Irish people “scummy” and Wales a “little shitty place” and there was the loss of touch judge Marius van der Weisthuizen because he spent time at Pennyhill Park training - but he also instructed the Twickenham ground staff to lengthen the dead ball area.
Stockdale gratefully accepted the gift of space.
“We wanted to play with bigger dead-ball areas, which we are quite allowed to under the laws. Everyone was aware of it.”
Back fired a little bit?
“Not really. Just part of the game.”
Always testy, and never one to roll over, the journalist must be ready for Jones’s razor-sharp tongue. Especially when wondering if he has any doubts about England turning this three-match losing streak around.
“No doubt, do you?”
The reporter is caught off guard, no Eddie.
“So we are both happy, we are all happy here boys. Every team has these runs. I’ve coach long enough to know this. Sometimes you get out of them quick and sometimes it takes a bit longer. It’s gone three games, it’s not nice, but it’s part of the process of becoming a better team. When you take over a team, like I did England, it is quite easy to improve them quickly because there is certain things you can go to and fix that quickly.
“There are other internal mechanisms that take longer to fix. They are slow burners. If you don’t fix them they catch up to you when you get to the big tournament, the World Cup.”
Leadership is England’s major slow burning problem, Jones conceded.
“Some people are born leaders [Owen Farrell is referenced] others it takes a bit longer. It’s like being in a classroom; some kids get their maths tables quickly, some don’t. That’s a big area for us to get right. It does take time. We have spoken about leadership density on the field. That is a slow burner. You got to keep building that.
“We are playing without our five top backrowers at the moment. Lost a number of other players. Some guys have come in and done really well. Others are probably going to struggle to participate in the future.
“We have to get a greater depth in our squad, and a depth of players who can play Test rugby.”
“That’s not for me to answer. I think you all wrote about this in the 2015 World Cup. I don’t know why you are asking me these questions. I am only responsible for the national team.”