EDDIE JONES insists England’s two successive defeats have not shaken his belief in what the team can achieve, claiming their current troubles are ‘an essential part of developing a great team’.
After being beaten by Scotland and France, another loss to Ireland would condemn England to their worst Six Nations finish since 2006 — the last time they lost three games in a Championship — and they could finish as low as fifth in the table.
Asked if their problems had dented his confidence in the team’s potential, England coach Jones declared: ‘No, not at all.
‘Every good team goes through this period. It’s actually an essential part of developing a great team.
‘The learnings we’ll get from this, albeit very painful, are absolutely crucial going forward because it’s about how we respond.
‘It’s not as if we can’t play rugby. When you get a loss it tests your mental resolve and that’s the test we’ve got to face.
‘We need to get over the disappointment of losing to France. We’ve reflected on the game and we did enough to win, but sometimes the result doesn’t go your way.’
Asked about selection, Jones added on Sky Sports: ‘I don’t [think we need personnel changes], I think we have the best players here. In 2015 the players were [supposedly] no good, in 2016 they were terrific, 2017 they were world beaters and now after two games they are no good again. They are good players and teams have ups and downs. We have a plan going forward. We think we know what we have to fix.’
Captain Dylan Hartley is expected to be available to face Ireland on Saturday but doubt now hovers over the fitness of Elliot Daly.
‘Dylan ran this morning but we need to get a medical report on him,’ said Jones. ‘If he’s fit he’ll play.’
Daly’s fitness hinges on a scan for a foot injury, with the Wasps wing currently wearing a protective boot.
■ 3 — England’s new world ranking after slipping a place, with Ireland leapfrogging Eddie Jones’ side into second. England’s consecutive away defeats to Scotland and France have seen them slip down the official World Rugby standings. Ireland step up courtesy of a record 11 consecutive wins. New Zealand remain top