Eddie Jones has demanded significant further improvement from his England players if they wish to feature at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
After presiding over a historic 3-0 series victory against Australia, Jones said he wants his squad to aim higher and plans to attend the Tour de France to see how elite cyclists cope with intense stress.
Jones has also indicated he will be lobbying for a reduction in the amount of rugby played by his players, despite their remarkable success over the Wallabies at the end of a long season. He is determined to leave no stone unturned in his bid to propel England to the top of the world rankings and will spend the next week contemplating a potential reshuffle of his elite player squad, expected to be announced in August.
“There are areas where we are definitely not where we need to be,” said Jones, having seen his side become only the fourth Test side to concede 40 points and still win. “I need a week now to review it, to see where we need to strengthen the team. But we can work on that over the next three or four months and make sure the squad we put together is the right one to beat South Africa in November.
“I’m going to go on the Tour de France and watch how they prepare. I’m keen to have a look at what they do because I’ve got to get better. If the team’s not consistent, then our coaching’s not good enough. So I’ve got to get better, our coaching staff’s got to get better.
“The next two months are about us getting better and then planning our strategy going forward.”
Jones hopes World Rugby introduce a “fallow year” for summer tours in an effort to protect players from burnout. “These players should be sitting on a beach in Barbados now,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right. I’ve spoken to [the Rugby Football Union chief executive] Ian Ritchie about it and we are in agreement. Ian is going to try to push that forward to World Rugby. Ideally it should go: fallow year, then a Lions year when you have a development tour away, and then a major tour in the third year: three Tests, maybe some midweek games.”
Jones is also looking to find more world-class players. “If you picked a World XV now, we haven’t got them. It doesn’t just happen … it takes years to develop a world-class player.”
He singled out Owen Farrell for his “solar system-class” goalkicking and also praised Billy Vunipola and Dan Cole but not every squad member in Australia has impressed him. “A couple of other guys have been found out on tour … they did really well in the Six Nations and have been quite poor on tour. That’s a great learning experience for them.”
He has also suggested some members of England’s U20 World Cup-winning squad could be fast-tracked into the senior squad: “I can’t give you a number but the guys that really impressed me in the under-20s will get a guernsey [shirt] in the EPS squad.”
The 44-40 win in the final Test on Saturday condemned Australia to their first home series whitewash since 1971 when they were beaten by South Africa, but England are not due to play the world’s No1 side, New Zealand, until late 2017 at the earliest.
Farrell was hailed by his half-back partner, Ben Youngs, as the ultimate kicker. “I think he is the best goalkicker in the world, without doubt,” Youngs said. “Every time we win a penalty I walk back as if we are going to receive a kick-off.”
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