Eddie Jones is to prepare his England players for every possible scenario at the World Cup – joking that they will even be ready for a missile attack from North Korea.
Jones believes that now the foundations of his reign have been laid while amassing 19 wins from 20 Tests, it is time to begin introducing some “chaos in the house” to force his squad into the next stage of development.
The Australian’s own experience of guiding teams through a World Cup, combined with the success achieved by New Zealand during the last two instalments of the tournament, have shaped his view on how to approach the next two years until Japan 2019.
England’s players will be dragged out of their comfort zones in the pursuit of the “depth and adaptability” that will ensure they can meet any challenge in a region that has been made unstable by the unpredictability of North Korea’s despotic leader Kim Jong-un.
“We need to make the team more uncomfortable, not have everything nice and rosy – have a bit of chaos in the house,” Jones said.
“Training, preparation, certainty… We want the players to be uncomfortable for the next two years. We want them to get to the World Cup and think, ‘Goodness me, I’ve made it and I’m prepared for anything’.
“Prepared for North Korea to fire a missile, an earthquake, bad sushi, bad refereeing… It doesn’t matter what happens – they will be ready for it.”
James Haskell’s prospects of being involved in the World Cup have receded after the veteran Wasps flanker was omitted from a 34-man training squad named for the Old Mutual Wealth Series opener against Argentina on November 11.
Haskell has been an ever-present under Jones when fit, but the head coach informed him in person on Saturday that due to his decline in form this season he would not be among the players gathering for next week’s training camp in Portugal.
The 32-year-old reacted to his omission by posting an Alan Partridge video on Instagram and Jones quipped that, when meeting the back row, he was worried he would be pursued in the JCB digger parked outside his house.
“I had to make sure he didn’t have the keys so he didn’t chase me with the tractor. Seriously – it was a JCB tractor,” Jones said. “James was smart enough to know it was coming. We have continuous conversations about where the players are at. He knows he’s a bit off the pace at the moment. The door is certainly not closed on him.”
Haskell’s absence comes despite his 75 caps and participation on the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand during the summer.
However, the Wasps forward may be among several Lions to miss out this autumn after Jones revealed that some of them must be rested.
“You just have to watch them play for their clubs to see what condition they are in. Some are definitely off the pace,” Jones said.
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