Jones rules out 'Bodyline' game plan

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:20
Large eddie jones ball under arm 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: England coach Eddie Jones has made no secret of wanting his side to "physically dominate" Australia at Twickenham on Saturday but the life-long cricket fan stopped short of a 'Bodyline' approach.

Jones will be seeking a fifth straight win as England boss against his native Australia this weekend.

The build-up to the match has been dominated by accusations from Australia coach Michael Cheika that England has a policy of deliberately late-tackling the Wallaby halfbacks.

But when it was suggested to Jones that his side planned to deploy a 'Bodyline' game, a reference to the infamous fast-bowling tactics of aiming at the batsmen's body rather than their stumps that helped England win the 1932/33 Ashes series in Australia, the coach responded with his own cricket analogy.

Jones said his players would need to deploy the guile and cunning associated with good spin bowlers if they were to improve on last week's error-strewn 21-8 win over Argentina.

"We're going to bowl sharp off-spinners. We bowled a lot of flat off spinners against Argentina - eight overs and none for 17 last Saturday," he said in reference to an efficient, if uninspiring, win over the Pumas.

"Now we need a couple of wickets. There are always ways to take wickets," Jones insisted.

For all the criticism, England received last week, they've still won 20 out of 21 Tests under Jones and are unbeaten at Twickenham, with the sole blot on his record a defeat by Ireland in Dublin in March.

Australia is on a seven-game unbeaten streak after beating Wales 29-21 in Cardiff last week.

"If you read the papers it's like we've gone into reverse after one 80-minute performance. So we're looking to be in first gear against Australia," he added.

Jones knows better than most the significance of Anglo-Australian sports clashes to both countries.

"Certainly when I was Australia coach it was the game on the tour you wanted to win and I'm sure Australia's the same now."

"We were part of the [British] Empire and we always looked up to England, England was seen as the mother country. It's like the little brother trying to take on the big brother," he stated.

This week Australia assistant coach and former Wallaby playmaker Stephen Larkham suggested the vast wealth of England's Rugby Football Union meant Jones's side were "spoilt" and had no excuses for losing.

"I love Stevie [Larkham], tell him I love him, will you?" said Jones. "I coached him for 10 years [at the Brumbies and with Australia]. I want him to do well as a coach. I just don't want him to do well on Saturday.

"When we get out there on Saturday, it doesn't matter whether you've got a union with £450 million in the bank or one million Australian dollars in the bank. It's all even."

Last week TV cameras caught Jones slamming down his notebook and swearing in frustration at an England mistake. The coach was prepared for similar attention on Saturday, saying he was sure the cameras "are going to be on me the whole game". 

"I've got a new pen - a nice, white English pen - so if I throw that, it's going to create some great television," he joked. 

"If the rugby doesn't entertain, I'll find another way to entertain."

As for his relationship with Cheika, a former teammate at Sydney club Randwick, Jones said: "We catch up but there is a competitive nature to it. When I was back in Australia in June, we caught up and had a coffee together.

"We had a chat about where his team was and where we were as old mates," he added.

Agence France-Presse