Jones denies England targeted Henshaw at full-back

Jones denies England targeted Henshaw at full-back
England's Ben Youngs and Jonny May tackle Robbie Henshaw of Ireland. (©INPHO/Gary Carr)

Eddie Jones has batted away suggestions that his England side targeted Robbie Henshaw in Saturday's Six Nations opener in Dublin which ended with the visitors romping to a comprehensive bonus-point 32-20 victory.

England's Head Coach Eddie Jones during the post match press conference. (©INPHO/Gary Carr)
England's Head Coach Eddie Jones during the post match press conference. (©INPHO/Gary Carr)

Henshaw was switched to full-back for this encounter after three seasons spent playing almost exclusively at inside-centre for Connacht, Leinster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions and he was made work by a tactically astute England side.

Time and again they punted the ball towards Ireland's back field and, while Henshaw dealt admirably with most of the nuts and bolts work that involved, it was a ploy that repeatedly put the home side on the back foot.

“We'd have played the same way had Lance Armstrong been playing there,” said Jones when asked if Ireland's choice of 15 had coloured their thinking. And he was similarly vague when asked later to dissect England's impressive kicking game.

"We just wanted to create space. We didn't know how we were going to take it, but kicking is one way to do it.”

Joe Schmidt was, inevitably, asked a similar question given the emphasis placed on the Leinster man's repositioning earlier in the week and the Ireland coach declared himself happy with the full-back's role under trying circumstances.

"I thought Robbie did a pretty good job. Keith Earls was keen to run off the hip pointer (injury he suffered in the first-half) and Robbie was under pressure to double job at times. The volume of running he did, he was as good as he could have been.

"You need fully fit experienced guys to cover that space effectively. They really did put us under pressure with a lot of players running hard onto the ball and it was incredibly hard to stop their momentum.”

Jones' performance in the post-match press conferences was, by and large, as muted as his team's had been explosive and he wasn't at all interested in using this one victory to frame the respective side's World Cup ambitions later in the year.

“These games have nothing to do with the World Cup,” he responded. “They are standalone games between an outstanding Ireland side and improving England side.”

And what of his assertion prior to this game that Ireland were the world's best side?

“I don't think they have changed in one game. They have been consistently good and you guys (in the media) have been writing it so it must be true.”

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