Jones: France Test will be measure of where England are

“It’s an emotional and a physical challenge. In training this week we’ll make sure we look after the players and that they’re ready to go at the Stade de France on Saturday. Then emotionally, we’ve had a couple of meetings and the players are slowly recovering” – Eddie Jones

By Sky Sports Rugby Union

Last Updated: 14/03/22 3:05pm

England head coach Eddie Jones spoke to Sky Sports on Monday

Eddie Jones has told Sky Sports he is confident England will respond to the “emotional and physical challenge” that awaits them against France in their final Six Nations fixture.

England head to Paris for Saturday’s Test out of the title running due to their 32-15 home defeat against Ireland on Saturday, while unbeaten Les Bleus are seeking a first title and Grand Slam since 2010.

A red card given to second row Charlie Ewels after just 82 seconds left England to play with 14 men for the vast majority of their game against Ireland at Twickenham, but Jones was buoyed and ‘proud’ by what he saw his players deliver in defeat.

“We were very disappointed to have lost the game,” Jones exclusively told Sky Sports on Monday.

“It was a difficult circumstance, you’d never bank on having a red card in virtually the first play of the game.

“I thought it took us some time to adjust, maybe 10 minutes, and then the next 60 minutes I thought we played with such great spirit and tactical discipline, and put ourselves in a position to win the game.

“I think at 15-15 all, we felt we had a really good chance to win the game, but then we opened the game up to Ireland and they were good enough to take it.

“It’s [facing France in Paris on Saturday] an emotional challenge and a physical challenge.

England suffered their second defeat of the championship in 2022, and now travel to face unbeaten France in Paris

“In training this week we’ll make sure we look after the players and that they’re ready to go at the Stade de France on Saturday.

“Then emotionally, we’ve had a couple of meetings – one early on Sunday morning, one just at lunchtime on Monday – and the players are slowly recovering.

“It takes a lot out of them, an effort like that, but I think we’ll get back to where we need to be.”

Maro Itoje and England put up a huge fight with a man less vs Ireland at Twickenham, with the crowd responding to their efforts

Jones added: “There’s enormous pride from the team’s performance. I think if you take out at the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes, we probably shaded Ireland and played with a lot of tactical discipline, determination and togetherness.

“I think the 82,000 people out there enjoyed what they saw, but we’re disappointed with the result and we’ve got one chance to go against France who are playing for a Grand Slam at their home ground, so there’s no better opportunity for us to show what a good team we can be.”

“It’s a good opportunity for us to find out where we’re at. You’re always judged by your last game.”

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Jones England’s game against unbeaten France will be a good measure of where his side are at the moment

Jones England’s game against unbeaten France will be a good measure of where his side are at the moment

With the 2023 Rugby World Cup to be hosted by France, England are taking the chance the opportunity to run their training week from the French capital, with the squad travelling on Tuesday this week.

Jones says he is confident England can deliver against Les Bleus at the Stade de France.

“It’s not about denying them a Grand Slam, it’s more about where we want to go as a team and the opportunity we have ahead of us,” Jones told Sky Sports.

“It’s more about us and what we can do.

Ireland eventually pulled away to a 32-15 victory, with Jack Conan scoring the decisive second-half try

“I think we showed against Ireland with 14 men what we’re capable of doing. So there’s no reason why we can’t take the game to France.

“We just have to be good enough to take opportunities, which comes down to the decision-making and skills of the players in that situation.

“We’re disappointed we’re not in a position to win the Six Nations but we can make sure we go out with a bang with a really good performance and win against France.

“I’m very confident. There’s a lot to take from the Ireland game and there’s no reason we can’t build on that against France.

Referee Mathieu Raynal showed a red card to England second row Charlie Ewels after just 82 seconds

“We’ve always said as soon as the World Cup was given to France that we would use every opportunity we can to dress rehearse.

“This is our first opportunity to dress rehearse in Paris. It’s a great chance for the boys to learn how a camp runs in Paris, because it is different.

“The city has a different feel, different tempo, different rhythm about it, and we want the players to get used to it.”

Willis called up; Curry ruled out; Sinckler going through protocols

Jones’ England will take on Les Bleus at the Stade de France without back-row Tom Curry as the RFU confirmed that a hamstring injury picked up against Ireland at Twickenham has ruled him out.

Wasps flanker Jack Willis, who hasn’t played for England since suffering a catastrophic knee injury against Italy in last year’s Six Nations (February 13, 2021), has been called up in his place.

Willis only made his return from injury at club level last month, and played his third game for Wasps against Northampton on Sunday.

“He’s [Willis] shown a lot of resilience, a lot of determination, and I was really pleased watching him play his first 80 minutes against Northampton,” said Jones.

“We know he’s a player of great promise, he’s still only 23 years of age and to come back from such a difficult injury is a great testament to his resilience, and I’m sure he’s going to add value to the squad.

Wasps flanker Jack Willis has returned to the England squad following a terrible knee injury in February last year

“Jack is an option [to come into the team], but I need to see him train tomorrow [Tuesday]. And if he trains well tomorrow, he could be an option.”

“We identified him as a player of promise, and got badly injured in the Italy game going back a year.

“There’s still a lot to go for him.”

Jones added that Bath flanker Sam Underhill may come into the side, while he also confirmed that Kyle Sinckler did not suffer concussion against Ireland, but is following return-to-play protocols:

“Sam’s had a good week of training with Bath having a bye week, he’s not been at the coffee van so much and he’s been training hard, so he’ll come into contention for a spot.

“Sinks (Kyle Sinckler) has got to do his return-to-play. There’s various levels of protocol he has to do.

“He has to do his return from injury stage three, because it was found out post-game that he didn’t have concussion but he still has to do the return-to-play protocols so we’ll make sure all those things are done correctly.

“Then we’ll see where he’s up to.”

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