LONDON – Eddie Jones believes despite two ‘very painful’ defeats which ended England’s two year Six Nations reign they can learn from the experience and bounce back.
The 58-year-old Australian — who prior to the Six Nations had suffered just the one defeat since taking over after the 2015 World Cup debacle — said defeat helps in the evolution of great sides.
Jones now has the sizeable challenge of trying to raise his side’s morale after defeats to Scotland and France ahead of hosting newly crowned champions Ireland as the visitors bid to seal only their third Five/Six Nations Grand Slam.
England are yet to lose at Twickenham under Jones and the Irish have not won there since 2010.
“No, not at all,” said Jones when asked did he lack belief in his players. “Every good team goes through this period. It’s actually an essential part of developing a great team.
“The learnings we’ll get from this, albeit very painful, are absolutely crucial going forward because it’s about how we respond,” added Jones.
Jones, who guided England to the Grand Slam in 2016 and then was denied another one a year later when the Irish upset them in Dublin, said the principal hurdle to overcome was the dent to the players’ confidence.
“It’s not as if we can’t play rugby, we know we’ve got good players as they’ve played for the Lions and won games for England,” said Jones. “When you get a loss it tests your mental resolve and that’s the test we’ve got to face.
“Obviously we need to get over the disappointment of losing to France.”
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Jones, who said captain Dylan Hartley was back in training after his leadership skills were badly missed in the French defeat, said the Irish deserved their title win.
“We’ve just got to focus now on Ireland,” said Jones, who revealed wing Elliott Daly faces a scan on his left foot. “We’ve started that with a short run this (Monday) morning and a couple of meetings to get us on the front foot.
“Ireland are a good team. I said at the start of the tournament they’re a good team and they’ve proved that — they’re worthy champions of the Six Nations.”
Defeat by Ireland would condemn England to their worst Six Nations performance since 2006 – the last time they lost three games in a Championship – and they could finish as low as fifth in the table.