Jones can make his unbeaten side even better

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WHEN YOU have had a perfect year, it is safe to say the state of the nation is in pretty good hands.

England rugby union coach Eddie Jones enjoyed just that in 2016 when the colourful Australian oversaw 13 wins from 13 Tests during his first 12 months in charge.

When that incorporates a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003, a series whitewash win over the Wallabies in Australia and then a faultless sequence of autumn internationals victories, it amounts to a remarkable achievement.

However, that is not the most encouraging aspect for Jones; he knows his side can get even better.

Their first task is to become the first side in Six Nations history to complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

There is no reason why this cannot be done although, admittedly, if they do so by winning their final game in Dublin then the plaudits really do need to be heaped on.

It will be fascinating for Jones, too, to integrate more players in 2017 given so many of his stars missed the end of last year.

Yes, England defeated Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Fiji without Maro Itoje, James Haskell, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell to name five.

That said, typically, they have lost the brilliant No8 Billy Vunipola to injury for the Six Nations and back-row colleague Chris Robshaw remains a doubt after being injured for Harlequins at the weekend.

Cruelly, the Leicester centre Tuilagi was injured yet again, too, as his latest comeback hit problems.

But such is the depth of Jones’ squad and his obvious ability to bring the best out of those players at his disposal, few would be surprised if England did prevail this Spring.

They start with France at Twickenham on February 4 before heading to Cardiff a week later, Italy and Scotland then visiting HQ before that Dublin denouement.

Playing with such confidence, intensity and no little style, England do, indeed, seem readied to even face the mighty All Blacks but, unfortunately, that fixture won’t happen in 2017.

It is the one thing even Jones cannot control.