Eddie Jones will look to emulate James Bond by making England “bulletproof” at the right time in preparation for navigating the 2019 World Cup’s most punishing group.
Once again the 2003 champions have been drawn in the competition’s toughest pool, facing France and Argentina alongside two matches against qualifiers, most likely to be the USA and Samoa.
The outcome of the draw at the Kyoto State Guest House replicates the last World Cup when they were paired in the ‘pool of death’ with Australia and Wales, resulting in the hosts’ demise at the earliest possible stage.
Jones, however, believes his Japan 2019 pool will leave his players battle-hardened for when their pursuit of the Webb Ellis Cup reaches its critical phase.
“Previously New Zealand have suffered from having very easy pool games,” said Jones. “No one wants to get ahead of themselves but you need to be right for the finals.
“We are going to have to be bulletproof at the World Cup. We are going to have to play a number of different ways against different teams and we have got to cope with it. To make the final we have got four very tough games.
“But I don’t want to be bulletproof now. Even James Bond is not bulletproof for the whole movie.
“There are times when he is susceptible. You need to peak at the right time. It’s all about timing.
“Sometimes the timing is about preparation, sometimes it’s about the age of your players, sometimes it’s about luck. You’ve got to get all three in line.”
England’s triumphant 18-test run under Jones came to an end against Ireland in Dublin in March and the Australian now views the loss as a stepping stone to a greater prize.
“We’re not bulletproof now. We showed that in Dublin. We’ve got to find ways to become bulletproof and we’ve got two years to do it,” said Jones.
“The more games you go through undefeated you do get that perception of being bulletproof.
“And we have seen that with New Zealand at previous World Cups so that has been a great lesson for us at the right time. As much as we hate losing, we have learned a lot.”
If the Japan 2019 competition unfolds as expected, England should face Wales in the quarter-finals and champions New Zealand a phase later.
“You’ve got to be good enough to win those games or you can’t expect to win a World Cup,” said Jones.
“How do you expect to win a World Cup if you can’t beat Wales in the quarter-final, even though they are a good team. It’s the same if it’s New Zealand in the semi-final. You’ve got to be good enough to win it.
“We’ve got to be able to get good enough to cope with the draw. I think it is good for us and it will keep us on our toes.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved