Eddie Jones insists England ‘still know where we are going’ despite Ireland loss

Eddie Jones maintains England remain on track

Eddie Jones maintains England players are still adjusting to his methods after suffering a 32-18 hammering by Ireland to confirm their equal-worst Six Nations performance.

The Red Rose went down for a third time of the championship, adding more misery to their doomed title defence thanks to tries from Keith Earls and Jack Conan, while Johnny Sexton piled up 22 points.

Pressure is now mounting on Jones, after leading England to just their second fifth-placed finish since 2000, but the Australian maintains his players must trust the process.

Jones defended his position when pushed over whether he is still getting through to his squad: “Ah yeah, most definitely, I don’t think that’s the issue. If I thought that was the issue I wouldn’t be coaching the team.

“As disappointed as I am about the result, we still know where we are going and we’ll continue in a positive fashion.

“There were a lot of positive things in the game. It a difficult game for us but we still know where we are going.”

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Apart from a stirring 23-20 victory over France, it has been a dismal two months for England who have entered full reverse since the 2019 World Cup when they lost to South Africa in the final.

“We need to assess where we are going. As I’ve said all along, we are going through a transition period in the team,” Jones said.

“This is almost a natural time for that to happen with two years before the World Cup. Those things will happen.

“We’ve had a fairly settled team for the last four years and that’s natural. But post the Lions, maybe there will be changes to personnel.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell believes the first major scalp of his tenure is fitting reward for his players following the criticism they faced earlier in the tournament and provides impetus for the future.

The dominant display earned the Irish a third successive win after defeats to Wales and France condemned them to their worst start to a Six Nations campaign.

“To win any last game in a tournament is always pleasing because it’s a long time between drinks until the next one, so to finish off with a W is pleasing,” he said.

“But I am just delighted for the lads because they’ve come in for a bit of stick. Obviously we’ve lost a couple of games and we never like to lose.

“The lads have always believed in how they are progressing and they’ve always thought that there is a performance like that in them.

“The performance wasn’t perfect; there is still a lot to work on but I am so pleased for them that they got over the line with a nice victory against a very good side. It just solidifies for us that we are on the right track.”

Ireland captain Sexton became the tournament’s leading points scorer on 65 following a nerveless kicking display.

The fly-half credited the impending retirement of Munster back-row CJ Stander and being “sick” of defending performances and results to the media as inspiration for the statement victory.

“It was a mixture of things. The fact that we wanted to do ourselves justice for the work we felt we put in, that was a huge motivator,” said Sexton.

“Obviously CJ’s last game was a big one.

“The big driver for me was getting the win that we felt we deserved, the performance we felt we deserved.

“I was sick of coming in here and talking to you guys (the media) every week defending ourselves, saying ‘we’re not that far away’.

“I don’t think you believed me and we got a performance we felt we deserved today.”

Speaking about Stander, who will hang up his boots this summer and was in tears at full-time, Farrell said: “I have just said to him in the changing room that he can be emotional as he wants to because he’s given his heart and soul to the jersey, to the green one and to the red one (Munster).”

PA

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