England coach Eddie Jones says ‘bloody tough periods’ define a champion team.
Jones won 24 of his first 25 Tests in charge of England, while winning back-to-back Six Nations titles in 2016 and 2017. But his side lost their last three matches of this year’s Six Nations – against Scotland, France and Ireland – and are currently 2-0 down in their three-Test series against the Springboks. They also lost a non-cap match against the Barbarians at Twickenham before coming to South Africa.
‘I’ve been through this many times,’ a defiant Jones said on Monday. ‘There are the great periods, the ones you look forward to, where everyone thinks you’re done and you have to find a way to win. When you are doing well, everyone pats you on the back and when you are not doing well, you’re pulling knives out of your back. That’s the reality of it. I’m enjoying it, loving it, absolutely loving it.
‘When everything is running well, it’s easy,’ Jones added. ‘You’ve got your team humming, you’re winning games you shouldn’t. You get 50-50 decisions, everyone’s available, you don’t have any injuries. They are the easy parts.
‘The hard parts are when you’ve got injuries, you’re not getting 50-50 decisions, there’s pressure around, there’s noise around and that’s where you find your worth and you find what players in your team can really stand up to pressure. That’s the most fascinating period.
‘Every team I’ve ever been involved with that’s been a champion team goes through this period of time. You have to be able to get through it and it’s painful and everyone knows better than you do at that time, but once you get through it, you’ve got the hallmarks of a champion team and that’s where we’re going. I’ve got no doubt about it.’
Jones, who had one-on-one interviews with his entire squad on Monday, said England are determined ‘to put in the best performance of the tour in Cape Town’.
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