Eddie Jones wants his England team to maintain their focus and not get riled up when they face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Jones says while his side will be ready for any provocation from the Scots, England will have to remain composed in order to bounce back from their demoralising 24-17 defeat by France.
‘Scotland are a niggly side,’ said the England coach of Gregor Townsend’s team. ‘Our historical record against Scotland is interesting – over 80% wins in England but only 50% at Murrayfield.’
Jones referred to an incident between the sides two years ago when Scotland eighthman Ryan Wilson shoved England flyhalf George Ford in the tunnel, prior to kick-off. A scuffle then ensued between the teams, with England captain Owen Farrell rushing to his teammate’s aid.
Scotland ended as 25-13 victors on the day, with the result sparking a five-match losing run for England, while Jones’ position as head coach came under heavy scrutiny.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 5, 2020
‘The dressing-room scene two years ago when they tried to goad a couple of our players. And they were successful,’ replied Jones, when asked to provide an example of Scotland’s ‘niggly’ behaviour.
‘Historically they’ve done that through the ages. That’s the way they stay in the game and they’re good at it. The Murrayfield environment helps them but you’ve got to be good enough to stay focused, be on task, do what you need to do.’
England will be without Manu Tuilagi against Scotland, after the injury-plagued centre left the field before the end of the first quarter against France with a groin injury.
‘Manu had his MRI scan last night and he has a slight, low-grade adductor strain,’ revealed Jones. ‘We’re hopeful he’ll be fit for Ireland [23 February]. It’s very good news, outstanding news.’
The 2017 Six Nations champions are already without brothers Billy and Mako Vunipola, and Tuilagi’s absence will mean Jones will be without another powerful ball-carrier against Scotland. Jonathan Joseph, who replaced Tuilagi in the defeat by France, will likely compete with Ollie Devoto for the starting berth at outside centre against the Scots.
Meanwhile, Bath wing Anthony Watson, who was a late withdrawal from the match-day squad in Paris, will also miss the match due to a calf injury.
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