Eddie Jones lashes out at ‘poison written in the media’
‘We try to spray all that rat poison that you try to put in and get it out of their head’
England head coach Eddie Jones expects an “attritional” contest as England seek a fifth straight win over Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images
Eddie Jones has made the bizarre claim that his England players’ heads have been infected with “rat poison” in a remarkable outburst directed at media critics, insisting he is constantly having to protect his squad.
England’s defeats by Scotland and Wales in their opening three matches prompted widespread criticism but last week’s thrilling victory over France was lauded as their best performance since the 2019 World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand.
For Saturday’s trip to Ireland, Jones has made just one change, recalling Elliot Daly and restoring him to his natural position of outside-centre for the first time in five years with Henry Slade ruled out through injury. Jones acknowledged that Daly – part of the Saracens contingent who had not played for two months before the start of the tournament – had struggled for form but when asked if his confidence had taken a knock, the head coach lashed out.
“I’ve never seen confidence walk through the door, so I don’t know what confidence is,” he said. “Players might think differently, they might work a bit harder, they might work a little bit less. I don’t think there is any such thing as confidence, you either think rightly or you think wrongly and the wrong time you start to listen to the poison that’s written in the media, that rat poison gets into players’ heads.
“We try to keep it out of their head. We try to spray all that rat poison that you try to put in and get it out of their head, so we are always working hard to keep it out of their heads. It keeps me busy, mate.”
Jones also warned not to necessarily expect the swashbuckling attacking style on show against France, predicting an “attritional” contest as England seek a fifth straight win over Ireland. Indeed, Jones cited how England failed to back up the 2019 win over the All Blacks as a reason his side may have to change their approach in Dublin.
He said: “It’s a great opportunity for us to show we have learned to understand what the game will present and play the game to the best of our ability, which we weren’t able to do in the World Cup final. Experience tells us that if you play in a game like that, like the World Cup semi-final where there is a lot of ball movement, the next game generally the opposition try to take that away from you.”
With Daly promoted from the bench, Joe Marchant has been called up and selected among the replacements, meaning Paolo Odogwu will go the whole tournament without winning a first cap. The 24-year-old was the form player in the Premiership when picked in Jones’s squad but has now not played since mid-January.
“Some players need a period of adaptation and he is a much better player now,” said Jones. “If he keeps working hard on his game and keeps attending to areas of his game that he needs to do to be a Test player he is going to be a great prospect.” – Guardian