Eddie Jones says England are ‘right on the money’ and can cash in against Italy

The head coach wants an immediate response after the loss to Scotland.

By Press Association Published: 11 February 2021 - 10.00pm

Eddie Jones has guaranteed England are primed to relaunch their Guinness Six Nations in the wake of their Calcutta Cup surrender, declaring “we are right on the money”.

An inexperienced Italy visit Twickenham on Saturday expected to fall to a 29th successive defeat in the Championship in a harrowing sequence dating back to 2015.

Jones has made five changes to his starting XV following the 11-6 collapse to Scotland, the most controversial of which sees Ollie Lawrence axed from the squad altogether to accommodate the 10-12 axis of George Ford and Owen Farrell.

Eddie Jones has taken a conservative approach to selection against Italy
Eddie Jones has taken a conservative approach to selection against Italy, Adam Davy/PA

England’s head coach has taken responsibility for the dire opening to the champions’ title defence but insists their preparation has been flawless, with a spell of soul searching now replaced by a determination to rediscover their swagger.

“We are not making any sort of excuses but last week there were various variables at play that in retrospect we didn’t handle well,” Jones said.

“As I said, I accept full responsibility for that. I got it wrong, but this week I can guarantee we are right on the money.

“This week, because we’ve had a loss and the team have been criticised from North to South Pole – and probably in between – the mood is not as upbeat so you’ve got to work a bit harder to get everyone thinking in a positive way and we’ve done that.

“We want to get on the front foot. We want to be back to playing good front-foot rugby. Get on the front foot.

“That’s when we’re at our best, that’s when we are one of the most damaging teams in the world and that’s what we want to get back to.”

Through little fault of his own, Lawrence was mostly a bystander against Scotland but Ford’s return at fly-half and Farrell’s switch to inside centre have forced him out of the 23.

The 21-year-old had to wait until the 63rd minute of the Calcutta Cup debacle to make his first carry as Farrell struggled to release his backline in an off-key performance by England’s captain.

In three starts, Lawrence has touched the ball just 10 times and has had little opportunity to prove his Test pedigree, yet he must now come to terms with Jones’ conservative approach in a match where defeat is all but unthinkable.

“Every selection’s a combination of personnel and tactics. With Ollie, it was a difficult game for him,” Jones said.

“He had very few opportunities in attack and not much to do in defence. But there are areas of his game we want him to work on.

“There are areas in his development we want him to work on because we want him to be a 50-cap player and that’s what we’re trying to develop with him.

“Every young player is in a hurry. With the internet and the way life is now, everyone is in a hurry.

“But being a great player, there are some times when you don’t get exactly what you want at that particular time and he understands there are areas of his game that he needs to improve. His ability to go away and work on that will be the test of his resilience.”

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