Eddie Jones says that while England are expecting a physical onslaught from the Boks, they are also prepared for an unexpected approach during Saturday’s World Cup final.
The Boks will face England in an encounter set to be dominated by physicality and forward play, with Jones suggesting his side is ready for the Boks’ “massively aggressive forward pack”.
The England boss, alongside defence coach John Mitchell, was in attendance for the Boks’ semi-final against Wales, and noted that his side are already aware of where they might be able to expose the Boks.
‘It was a tough old game. Both the coaches and captains spoke about how they anticipated it being an arm wrestle and it was,’ said Jones of the Boks’ semi-final victory.
‘The only thing we are really worried about is how the Springboks turn up on Saturday. They won a tough semi-final and when you are in the final of the World Cup you have done a lot of good things right.
‘They are a massively aggressive forward pack and they played their stronger team in the second half as opposed to the first half. They are going to be a difficult side to beat but we will enjoy the preparations. We know a couple of areas where we think we can expose them and will make sure we are good in those areas.’
After a couple of troubled seasons, the Boks have a chance to defy all odds yet again by claiming a third World Cup title, with Jones praising coach Rassie Erasmus’ impact on the national set-up.
‘Rassie [Erasmus] is a cunning coach and has done a great job with the Springboks. We are prepared for the unexpected and they can play different ways. You saw Faf de Klerk doing 15-20 box kicks. Handre Pollard is an excellent kicker of the ball and he was smooth and had a nice touch on the ball.
‘They can play differently but we also know they can come through the front door. Not many Springbok teams you play don’t come through the front door so we will be ready at the front door and have enough cover for the back door if that happens.’
Jones confirmed on Monday that England should have a clean bill of health for the final, despite concerns over wing Jonny May and captain Owen Farrell, following the bruising encounter with the All Blacks.
‘We are good and had a walk through this morning and had to tell Jonny [May] to slow down a bit,’ said Jones. ‘He is probably in better condition than he was last week at this stage. Immeasurably better.
‘Owen [Farrell] is a bit sore but will be fine, and there are some bumps and bruises.
‘The great thing about our players is that physically they are in fantastic condition, so their ability to recover is extraordinary.
‘They are taking to the onsens [Japanese hot springs] in droves and it is a great way of recovering. So our players are better today than they were last week.’
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images