Jones ea­ger to com­bine high-tempo ap­proach with el­e­ment of con­trol

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY - To­day Eng­land v Ar­gentina Twick­en­ham, 3pm Sky Sports Main ROBERT KITSON

Eng­land will wear dark grey for their open­ing au­tumn Test against Ar­gentina but a dull, mono­chrome con­test is un­likely. Ed­die Jones did not get where he is to­day by en­cour­ag­ing his teams to tip­toe hes­i­tantly from the chang­ing sheds and a colour­ful re­ac­tion can be guar­an­teed should his play­ers con­trive to lose to op­po­nents whom they have al­ready beaten three times in the last 12 months.

Even with­out the in­jured Billy Vu­nipola plus the rested Maro Itoje and Owen Far­rell, Eng­land’s play­ers have been chal­lenged since Au­gust to make a se­ri­ous state­ment from the out­set of the Old Mu­tual Wealth Se­ries. Jones does not want Eng­land to copy New Zealand stylis­ti­cally but he would not mind cloning a touch of All Black ruth­less­ness.

It is not a pre­cise com­par­i­son but, as Ja­pan proved so mem­o­rably against South Africa in the open­ing game of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Brighton, the longer Jones has to pre­pare for a spe­cific game the more in­ter­est­ing the re­sults tend to be.

Any­one even men­tion­ing Aus­tralia this week has been shoved in­stantly back in their box, mi­cro­phone askew. The Pu­mas are the only cur­rent tar­get, not least be­cause they will be shar­ing Eng­land’s pool in Ja­pan in 2019.

Red card

The cor­re­spond­ing fix­ture last year did not pan out as planned, the game barely five min­utes old when El­liot Daly be­came the first Eng­land back to be given a red card at Twick­en­ham. Vu­nipola also de­parted pre­ma­turely with a knee in­jury and Dan Cole’s sin-bin­ning re­duced the home side to only 13 men at one stage. They won 27-14 but ul­ti­mately it was more an ex­er­cise in cri­sis man­age­ment than crisp per­fec­tion.

Two high-scor­ing sum­mer Tests in Ar­gentina sub­se­quently saw Eng­land tri­umphant in the ab­sence of their Lions play­ers, adding a fur­ther layer of ex­pectancy to this lat­est re­union with the Pu­mas. Jones is fully re­spect­ful of Ar­gentina’s own pent-up mo­ti­va­tion but does not have in­fi­nite time in which to tinker be­fore the grav­i­ta­tional pull of 2019 in­ten­si­fies.

Which is why, in ev­ery sense, he is de­mand­ing a fast start now. Eng­land will seek to play at high tempo but with a healthy el­e­ment of cal­cu­la­tion and con­trol. The man­age­ment will want to see, specif­i­cally, whether Ge­orge Ford, Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph can forge a proac­tive mid­field al­liance, whether Sam Un­der­hill is as ef­fec­tive a break­down op­er­a­tor at this level as many an­tic­i­pate and whether there is enough star qual­ity across the start­ing XV to cover the ab­sence of prob­a­bly the team’s three best play­ers.

The ab­sence of Far­rell will de­prive Eng­land of their main safety blan­ket. Ford went well in Ar­gentina but he has not al­ways found goal-kick­ing sim­ple at Twick­en­ham; while he is ear­marked to as­sume the cap­taincy when Dy­lan Hart­ley goes off, there will be ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion for his start­ing place against the Wal­la­bies if Slade has a stormer and a frus­trated Far­rell is cleared to re­turn.

The Pu­mas, even in the ab­sence of some in­flu­en­tial over­seas-based play­ers, re­main a bet­ter team than eight de­feats in nine Tests this year might sug­gest. The 24-year-old flanker Pablo Matera and left winger Emil­iano Bof­felli, only 22, will need watch­ing, as will their cap­tain Agustín Creevy, Hart­ley’s op­po­site num­ber.

Eng­land, nev­er­the­less, will still ex­pect to pull away in the sec­ond half by at least 10 points un­less Jones’s strict pre-match in­struc­tions fade to grey in the wash.

ENG­LAND: M Brown; A Wat­son, J Joseph, H Slade, ED aly;GFo rd, BYoungs;MVu nip ola, D Hart­ley( capt ), DC ole, C Law es, GK ru is, C Rob shaw, S Un­der hill, N Hughes. Re­place­ments: J Ge­orge, E Gen ge, H Williams, J Launch bury, S Sim­monds, DC are, AL oz ow ski, SRoko­dugu ni. AR­GENTINA: S Gar­cia Bot ta, AC re evy, NT etaz,M Ale man no, T Lava ni ni, PM at era, MK re mer, T Le zan a, M Land ajo,JM Her­nan­dez, R Mo ya no, SIG on­za­lez,M Moroni, EB off elli,JTu­cul et. Re­place men ts:JM onto ya,LNogu era Paz, E Pier et to, B Mac ome,L Sen a tore, GB er tra­nou,N Sanchez, S Can­cel lie re. Ref­eree: Mar­ius van der West hui zen( South Africa ).

Sam Un­der­hill: was Eng­land’s top tack­ler on his de­but dur­ing tour of Ar­gentina

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.