Eddie Jones unflustered as England preparations for Six Nations return hampered by Barbarians

·2 min read
Pool via REUTERS
Pool via REUTERS

Eddie Jones appeared unflustered by the vital preparation lost with the cancellation of England’s autumn curtain-raiser against the Barbarians.

The game was called off on Friday, 48 ahead of kick-off, after it emerged that a large portion of the Barbarians squad had broken coronavirus protocol twice in the week leading up to the game.

The cancellation cost the RFU around £1million, and Jones the opportunity to warm up for a five-match autumn series which begins on Saturday with the final weekend of the 2020 Six Nations Championship. England play Italy in Rome in the second of three matches.

Jones compared the situation to the cancellation of his team’s World Cup pool match against France 12 months ago, when a typhoon struck Tokyo.

“I've been around a while so I just accepted it and quickly went up to my room and worked out a Plan B,” said Jones. “I didn't get involved in the emotion of what happened, I came up with the Plan B then got our logistics manager and our captain Owen [Farrell] up and we quickly had a plan in place about an hour after the cancellation of the game and we were on to the next thing.

“We are pretty good at these things, we had the same situation with the typhoon in Japan (that saw England's World Cup pool match against France called off) so we moved on -- this time it was just a bit of a different typhoon.”

Jones was unfazed by the manner in which the game was cancelled.

"Look I haven't given it much thought because it's not something I controlled and I've got enough to worry about here, I can assure you,” he said.

Instead of the match, Jones said England had a “highly competitive training session”.

Jones said he found picking his 36-man squad for the Italy match tricky due to the loss of key players like George Ford and Elliot Daly to injury.

“It's been a difficult squad to pick, probably a little bit different to any squad we've had to pick before,” he said. "We've got nine very good players unavailable. We've had a congested club season which has provided selection challenges because of some of the mismatches in games. But I'm very happy with the squad.

“We've got a nice balance in there of experienced players and I think 25 per cent of the squad is uncapped players, so there are opportunities for some young talent to come through. We've had two great mini camps and a great week in training. We're looking forward to getting on to the field and doing the business.”

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