Rugby News – Eddie Jones Hits Back At Warren Gatland
The Japanese Rugby World Cup has been a wonderful six weeks of international rugby. England overcame the reigning world champions on Saturday, while Wales fell at the final hurdle against South Africa.
Meanwhile, off the pitch, Eddie Jones has raised the ante with his comments in relation to Warren Gatland’s jab at England last week.
Gatland was speaking after his side had lost to South Africa, and a day after England had beaten the All Blacks 19-7 in the Rugby World Cup’s first semi-final.
“You just send my best wishes to Warren to make sure he enjoys the third and fourth place play-off,” said Jones in a tongue-in-cheek comment at England’s news conference.
At the weekend, Gatland had fuelled the managerial talks. He said: “We have seen in previous World Cups that teams sometimes play their final in semi-finals and don’t always turn up for a final.
“So it will be interesting to see how England are next week, and it could be a good game.”
Meanwhile, the England coach has said that Jonny May is recovering well from the dead leg that he suffered in the 45th minute of the victory over New Zealand, and he should be fit enough to start at the weekend in the final against South Africa.
“We had a walk through this on Monday morning, and we had to tell Jonny to slow down a bit,” the England coach said.
But he did admit that May is in “immeasurably better” condition than when he was recovering from a hamstring problem at the same stage of last week.
Fly-half Owen Farrell also picked up a dead leg in the first half of the match against New Zealand. This left George Ford to take over the kicking duties for the duration of the second half.
Jones added: “Owen’s a bit sore, but he’ll be fine. We’ve got a few others carrying bumps and bruises because it was a tough old game.”
Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer is due to meet up with the England squad on Monday afternoon as a replacement for Willi Heinz. Heinz had suffered a hamstring injury in that brutal semi-final clash.
“It is tough for Willi. He’s been a great contributor and a very well-liked member of the squad and was in tears in the dressing room,” said Jones.
“He has collected himself and knows he has another role to do for us and will fulfil it well this week.”
Spencer has won three England caps previously and is set to be announced as a substitute for Saturday’s final.
“Ben has been in and around the squad for the last couple of years and knows the game and knows the players and is a fit guy and fits in quickly,” added Jones. “We said to the guys outside the 31 that they need to be ready to go.
“It is a great opportunity ahead of him, and he has to learn a few new things and Willi and Ben [Youngs] will help him with that.
“The task in hand is no different from any other player, and he has to learn a bit more and get himself physically and mentally ready.”
The World Cup final will mark a rematch from the 2007 event. England came into that tournament as the reigning champions but eventually came up short in that showpiece event against South Africa as they lost 15-6 in Paris.
Jones’ side will go into the match as the favourites to get the win after beating the All Blacks. It would be a triumph, but South Africa have shown that they are a durable opponent.