Billy Stickland/INPHO England head coach Eddie Jones pictured before Saturday's defeat to New Zealand at Twickenham.
# familiar foe
Jones advises Japan to 'go to the temple and pray' ahead of Twickenham clash
On Saturday, the England boss goes up against the team he coached at the 2015 World Cup.

ENGLAND COACH EDDIE Jones has advised Japan to go to the temple and pray as he promised to show no mercy when the team he coached at the 2015 World Cup come to Twickenham.

England will head into this weekend’s clash buoyed, if ultimately frustrated, by a hugely encouraging display in an agonising 16-15 loss to reigning world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.

That result, allied to England’s 12-11 win over South Africa in their opening November international, has calmed the fevered debate over Jones’ future that erupted after a run of five straight defeats earlier this year.

Jones knows how much Japan would love to cause another shock on English soil having guided them to a stunning 34-32 win over South Africa in Brighton during the last World Cup — a result now widely regarded as the biggest upset in rugby union history.

Japan captain Michael Leitch was quoted as saying recently “we’ve been bullied a lot by Eddie and would like to give it back by beating England as a sign of gratitude”. Jones responded with a stark warning for his old side.

“Pray, pray, pray. Go to the temple and pray. Just pray, it’s the best thing,” he said. “We’re going to be absolutely ruthless. If I was Japan I’d be worried. I know they’re going to come full of confidence. I’ve heard some of the things they’ve said, they’ve been a bit cheeky, so look out.”

Jones plans to name his strongest available side for the Japan match, amid talk he might use a game against a ‘lesser’ opponent as a chance to give fringe players Test experience. He will, however, have to wait for injury updates on lock George Kruis (calf) and hooker Dylan Hartley (thumb), the England co-captain.

Meanwhile, centre Manu Tuilagi’s long-awaited international comeback following knee, chest, groin and hamstring injuries may well be put on hold again.

Rugby Union - Japan Press Conference - Hilton Brighton Metropole PA Archive / PA Images Jones pictured alongside Japan captain Michael Leitch during a 2015 World Cup press conference. PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

Jones, asked how England would prepare for Japan, replied: “Sushi and sake!”

But he was in more serious mood when asked about resting players from the match against the Brave Blossoms.

“It’s not logical. That’s illogical. How am I going to train them? I’ve got three days to train them. It’s a good test for us to see how cohesive we can get in a short period of time, which mimics the World Cup.”

Jones, who made his name as a Test coach in charge of his native Australia, added: “Japan are the highest-kicking team in the world, they’ve got a really good defence system and they’ve got some good young players coming through.”

And he insisted there would be no question of England playing ‘festival rugby’ against the 2019 World Cup hosts.

“We’re taking it seriously and that’s why we have to be absolutely ruthless about the game,” he said. “If you want to come out and watch a Barbarians game, don’t come out, stay home.” 

© – AFP, 2018

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