EDDIE JONES will spend time with Orica GreenEDGE at next month’s Tour de France in the belief he must develop as a coach if England are to become the dominant force in the game.
A remarkable first season at the helm for Jones has seen the achievement of winning a Grand Slam surpassed by a 3-0 series whitewash of Australia that has extended their triumphant sequence to 10 wins, nine of them under their serving head coach.
The next assignment is an autumn schedule consisting of Tests against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and the Wallabies and Jones has already begun plotting the downfall of the visitors to Twickenham in November.
He is acutely aware, however, that the wild inconsistencies across defence, attack and set-piece which were evident Down Under must be addressed if England are to dethrone New Zealand.
“I’m going to go on the Tour de France for a bit and watch how Orica GreenEDGE prepare, probably next weekend,” Jones said.
“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. I’ve got to get better and our coaching staff have got to get better.
“The next two months are about us getting better and then planning our strategy going forward.
“You can never take your foot off the pedal. As soon as you take it off, you get weak.
“And we can’t afford to get weak because while we want to be the number one team in the world, we are still miles away from the All Blacks. We’ve got to keep improving.”
The Grand Slam and summer tour success have elevated England to second place in the global rankings, but the most accurate gauge of their progress is a showdown against Steven Hansen’s world champions.
The Rugby Football Union has stated that the schedule for November 2017 has yet to be finalised and that New Zealand could yet feature, but waiting until 2018 to face them is more realistic.
“It doesn’t matter because I don’t control the schedule, but I’d be happy to play them tomorrow,” Jones said.
Jones signed off England’s march to a first Grand Slam for 13 years by praising the contribution of Chris Robshaw and as the squad prepared to return home from their June tour, it was the turn of Leicester prop Dan Cole to be acclaimed by the Australian.
“I thought Dan Cole was absolutely outstanding in the third Test. I got a text from an old Italian hooker saying he was the series MVP,” Jones said.
“I think he might have been a bit biased, but Dan was outstanding. The scrum gave us significant advantage at certain times.
“He’s improved his game enormously in general. The boys were just watching the replay of his try and were laughing, but he’s just improved.
“For a guy who at the end of the World Cup was being pilloried, he’s come through and done exceptionally well.”
When Jones took over in December he outlined his desire to develop a nucleus of world-class players, but even after a stand-out six months he was reluctant to promote any members of his squad to that status.
“We haven’t got five. If you picked a world XV now, we haven’t got them.
“Players are developing. It doesn’t just happen like this (clicks fingers),” he said.
“It takes years to develop a world-class player.”
Australia: Folau, Haylett-Petty, Kuridrani, Toomua, Horne, Foley, Phipps; McMahon, Hooper, Fardy, Simmons, Skelton, Kepu, Moore, Slipper. Replacements: Polota-Nau, Sio, Holmes, Coleman, Palu, Frisby, Lealiifano, Naiyaravoro.
England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, O Farrell, Nowell; Ford, B Youngs; Vunipola, Hartley (capt), Cole, Itoje, G Kruis, Robshaw, T Harrison, Vunipola. Replacements: George, Mullan, Hill, Launchbury, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly.
Referee: N Owens (Wales).
Three Yorkshire Carnegie academy graduates helped England win the Under-20s World Championship, beating Ireland 45-21 in Manchester.
Centre Max Wright, 19, of Leeds, fly-half Max Green, 20, of Bradford and prop Lewis Boyce of Middlesbrough, 19, all contributed.