‘Eddie’s ready for chess and steroids’

What the English newspapers are saying ahead of the Test between England and South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

English rugby correspondents were inspired as much as they were entertained at the Eddie Jones press conference held at Pennyhill Park on Thursday. Today’s papers reflect the local scribes’ confidence in the England coach and team.

‘Eddie’s ready for chess & steroids’ reads the headline in the Daily Mail. This is what Jones and his England side are expecting from the Boks at Twickenham on Saturday. The game should be brutally physical, and England may need to box clever to emerge victorious.

‘We’re not shying away from the physical side of the game, but when Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman, if he went toe-to-toe with him he was going to lose, so he had to find other ways of getting round him,’ said Jones. ‘South Africa play the game like a physical game of chess. Like chess on steroids.’

On the selection of Tom Wood, the openside flank favoured for a bruising battle against the Boks, Jones said: ‘He’s got a bit of Rambo about him. He walks around the hotel with no shoes on, he’s got bows and arrows round the corner, he’s got chainsaws. He so keen to be here and that’s what you want.’

‘Six changes, but I’m not scared’ is the title of Clive Woodward’s column in the Mail. The 2003 World Cup-winning coach says that Jones has ‘got the squad in such a good place that excitement is my only emotion'.

Woodward says that one of Jones’s best selections is that of Owen Farrell at centre and ultimately ‘recognising the need for a clever ball-playing 12 who is also an accomplished kicker out of hand. This team is the real deal on and off the pitch'.

‘Jones promises to outfox giant but predictable Boks’ is the big headline in The Times. In his column, Stuart Barnes notes that South Africa’s defence is in chaos, and that England have a great opportunity this weekend.

The Daily Telegraph has also focused on the ‘chess and steroids’ comment by Jones. Mick Cleary concludes his piece by stating that England’s ‘projected ascent continues, with the Springboks the latest to block that upward climb'.

Also in the Telegraph, Daniel Schofield says of the Boks: ‘For all of their previous talk of broadening horizons, South Africa coach Allister Coetzee has opted for the Springboks’ traditional virtues of size and experience in selecting a heavyweight pack to face England tomorrow at Twickenham.’

The Guardian has focused on the bigger picture, as their headline, ‘Jones fires bullet train on World Cup track’ suggests. When asked when England will be the finished article, the coach replied, ‘2 November 2019 8pm’ in reference to the next World Cup final.

In the same paper, Michael Aylwin writes under the headline ‘Coetzee opts for brute strength at Twickenham’:

‘Eddie Jones recently described South Africa as “bullies” and the Springboks have duly rendered this the latest example of the Wisdom of Eddie. Not that it takes a genius to predict how South Africa are likely to approach a Test match against England at Twickenham, but even by their standards the pack they have announced for tomorrow is massive.’

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