England forwards eager to prove South Africa doubters wrong, says Eddie Jones

·3-min read
England forwards eager to prove South Africa doubters wrong, says Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones says his forwards are out to prove the World Champion South Africans wrong in their belief that England have a “weak pack”.

On Saturday, Jones’ team meet South Africa for the first time since the World Cup final, which they lost 32-12, two years ago.

South Africa pose a fearsome physical threat, with a vast pack and the “Bomb Squad” to come from the bench.

England, meanwhile, are without a series of experienced forwards, with hookers Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie injured and Ellis Genge out with Covid-19. Joe Marler is only able to take a place on the bench having been in isolation himself.

Furthermore, since 2019, the Vunipola brothers have drifted out of favour and George Kruis has moved to Japan.

Jones says there is an “implication” from the South African camp that they view England’s pack as “weak”.

“They said after the World Cup final, where they beat us fair and square, that they knew how to play to us, they knew where our weaknesses were and they were implying that our forward pack was weak,” said Jones.

“Our forward pack’s not weak and we’ll have an opportunity on Saturday to show that. We look forward to taking them on in that physicality and we’re also looking forward to try to expose the weaknesses in their game that they do have.

“It’s the implication of what they’re saying. They knew how to beat us. [Captain Siya] Kolisi after the World Cup final said he knew how to beat us.

“Obviously their game is based on physicality so the implication is that they can go over our forward pack. But our English forward pack won’t be weak on Saturday. We’ll have 82,000 people supporting that forward pack and we’re looking forward to that contest up front.”

“I know what we’re going to deliver, we’ll deliver a strong, spirited energetic, aggressive display from our forward pack.”

Marler will rejoin the team tomorrow after 10 days off with Covid-19, and Jones predicts he will be up to speed having eaten a diet of wraps and trained in his gym at home.

“We’re anticipating that he’ll be out of isolation at 8pm this afternoon and he’ll be ready to go,” he said. “We don’t have a bomb squad like South Africa are so proud about, but have Joe Marler and Will Stuart. And with the young guy [Nic] Dolly from Leicester, we’re looking forward to taking them on in the last 20-30 minutes of the game.”

Jones believes South Africa are beatable.

"There’s no team that’s unbeatable, there’s no team that doesn’t have a flaw in whatever they do and sometimes your strength becomes your weakness,” he said.

“You’ve got to get stuck in, there’s no getting away from the fight but, having said that, there are opportunities to hurt them in other ways and we have to be brave enough to take those opportunities to hurt them in other ways.”

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