England let focus drift to World Cup in shock Argentina loss, admits Eddie Jones

England let focus drift to World Cup in shock Argentina loss, admits Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones has admitted England let their focus drift to the 2023 World Cup before Sunday’s shock loss to Argentina at Twickenham.

The head coach has shouldered full responsibility for England’s 30-29 loss, only the Pumas’ second win at HQ.

England are still seeking to expand their attack, with Jones this morning again referencing his men being overpowered by South Africa in the 2019 World Cup Final. He is determined England will develop ways around opponents such as the Springboks in future, should they again find themselves outmuscled in knockout rugby.

“We’re very disappointed in the last game, we weren’t good enough, [and] that’s totally my responsibility. I didn’t coach well enough,” said Jones.

“I think whenever your team doesn’t play to the potential that you want, there’s always something in the message you’re giving the team that’s not quite clear. And when I reflect on the game, we’ve been looking at a number of long-term strategies we’re trying to employ to get ourselves ready for the World Cup, and maybe our focus wasn’t tight enough on the Argentina game.

Eddie Jones has taken full responsibility for England’s shock defeat by Argentina on Sunday (Getty Images)
Eddie Jones has taken full responsibility for England’s shock defeat by Argentina on Sunday (Getty Images)

“It probably looked at times we lacked a bit of energy, particularly in our attack, and maybe we were just over-thinking it a bit, so that’s entirely my fault. But I’ve got the greatest confidence that the players will rise to the task.”

Jones also threw his support behind the Marcus Smith-Owen Farrell axis at 10 and 12 ahead of Saturday’s Twickenham clash against Japan. Asked if he was confident of Smith and Farrell finding their groove, Jones replied: “Oh, one hundred per cent. They are four games in and we’ve got another 12 games to the World Cup.

“If they are able to play 16 games together they’ll have a good understanding and they’ll start to read each other a bit more. And when you look at the opportunities we missed, they were small cohesion problems that come from playing together.

“It’s the first time Manu Tuilagi has played with those two as well, and Manu hadn’t played for three or four weeks, hadn’t trained with us until Tuesday last week. So, hopefully, he’ll be better for the run. There’s a cluster of teams at the top of world rugby. We want to break that cluster, and to do that we have to have a number of ways to play the game.

“And this next 11 months is to get enough equipment in our armoury so that we can play any way. England has traditionally been about power rugby: win the set-piece, smash down the gainline.

“But we’ve got to learn from the 2019 World Cup that in the final we came up against a side that had more power than us and we were unable to beat them at that game. So, we’ve continually had in the back of our head about developing a different strategy to our play that involves more subtlety, more ball movement to disrupt the defence.

“And part of that is having a fantastic 10, which Marcus is, and a 12 who can play in a number of different ways, who can run, kick and pass. And they are just in their infancy now.”

Brett Hodgson will replace Anthony Seibold as defence coach after the Autumn Nations Series, becoming England’s 18th assistant under Jones.

Seibold is set to join Manly Super Eagles as head coach, with Hodgson available after a stint with Hull FC. “It’s disappointing, but I also love to see my assistant coaches develop their careers,” said Jones.