Eddie Jones braced for fireworks

Eddie Jones has placed his players on standby to round up any loose cockerels at the Stade de France as England prepare for fun and games from opponents intent on denying them the Grand Slam.

Eddie Jones braced for fireworks

The newly crowned RBS 6 Nations champions have been braced by their head coach for all eventualities during their warm-up when they face France in the eagerly awaited climax to the tournament in Paris.

“You never know if there is something we might not be ready for,” the Australian said.

“We made some contingency plans on Wednesday evening with some of the main players and talked about what could potentially happen. We wanted to get them thinking about it.

“Everyone’s got to be on their toes. If we get a smaller warm-up space, if the marching band starts walking into our warm-up or if they let loose 15 cockerels… We’re going to have to round them up, put them back in their cage and get on with the warm-up.

“I would imagine that at the start of the game there are going to be marching bands and cockerels racing around.

“This is a big game for us and the rest of the tournament. Everyone outside the English doesn’t want England to win.

“The French are going to be doing their absolute utmost to make sure we don’t win. We’ve got to be good enough to cope with it.

“I’d imagine there will be everything French going on at the start of the game and you’d expect that. You’d be disappointed if that didn’t happen.”

Jones urged England to earn the right to “beat their chest” by seizing the ultimate prize in the northern hemisphere and bring England’s first Grand Slam since the World Cup winners of 2003 swept all before them.

“A Grand Slam means you’ve beaten everyone and that gives you a right to beat your chest a little bit,” said Jones, who added his overwhelming priority is to win the 2019 World Cup.

“We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve got the Six Nations trophy, but it doesn’t feel like that. Once we beat France on Saturday it will feel like that.

“France away for a Grand Slam is a great test. The first 20 minutes is going to be a good physical test, but this is also a great mental test.”

Jones makes no apology for his conviction that England will depart the Stade de France with a 13th clean sweep in the tournament.

“We’re the better team and we have to believe we’re the better team. If you go into Grand Slam games thinking you’re not the better team you are going to get beaten,” he said.

“The potential of this team is to start winning silverware and that’s the opportunity on Saturday night.”

Jones insists his experience of coaching Australia in the 2003 Tri-Nations has demonstrated the lengths teams will go to in search of landing a pre-match psychological blow.

“I’ll always remember when we beat South Africa in Sydney and then went to Johannesburg two weeks later to play on Nelson Mandela’s birthday - the great man,” Jones said.

“The bus comes late, we’re late to the ground, there are spears going through the wall during the warm-up — everything you can think of.

“We get back to the dressing room after the worst warm-up and who’s sitting in a golf cart in front of our dressing room? Nelson Mandela.

“No-one can tell him to leave, obviously, so we have to wait outside the dressing room. We got back just in time to come out for kick-off.

“I would imagine all this is going to happen on Saturday. I’d be disappointed if it doesn’t. We’ve got to be good enough to cope with it all.”

Jones also said he believes Warren Gatland is the man to lead the 2017 Lions’ tour to New Zealand.

“I’m not interested and the only reason that I’m not interested is because I’ve come here to coach England,” the Australian said.

“If you look at European rugby over the last period of time, then Warren is by far the most accomplished coach. And I think after the last Lions tour he deserves it.

“I’d be quite happy for our staff to go, because some of our staff would definitely benefit from the Lions tour.”

Jones has made two changes to his England side this weekend, with prop Mako Vunipola and scrum-half Danny Care starting at the expense of Joe Marler and Ben Youngs.

Marler has been at the centre of the disrupted build-up to the Paris showdown after admitting his guilt to separate offences of striking and verbal abuse against Wales front rows Rob Evans and Samson Lee last Saturday.

However, the Harlequins loosehead escaped sanction from the Six Nations disciplinary committee, which is now having to provide details of its investigation to World Rugby after an outcry at the verdict.

France boss Guy Noves meanwhile is confident his side can pull off an upset on today. “Our players want to do well,” he said. “We are confident in them,”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox