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'Our whole mindset is taking the game to South Africa, playing with no fear' - England coach Eddie Jones on his masterplan to win the Rugby World Cup

Coach urges his players to front up the most physically intimidating team in the game

England's head coach Eddie Jones looks ahead to the World Cup Final against South Africa in Tokyo on Saturday. AFP
England's head coach Eddie Jones looks ahead to the World Cup Final against South Africa in Tokyo on Saturday. AFP

Fours years of preparation for the biggest 80 minutes of their lives. England coach Eddie Jones was in no mood to accept anything other than full, confrontational commitment against the most physically intimidating side in world rugby.

The England players know eactly what they will be faced with in Tokyo. Snarling, hulking South Africans with the conviction that their grinding style will wear England down and win them the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time.

Jones, however, was not lacking in confidence after England's own peerles display in destroying the defending champions New Zealand in last week's semi-final. It made the rugby world sit up and take notice. And he believes if they play to their potential, there is plenty more to come.

"We know South Africa aren't going to give us the game, they are going to come hard," said Jones. "They've got a history of being the most physically intimidating team in the world, so we've got to take that away from them.

"Our whole mindset this week is about taking the game to South Africa, playing with no fear. Where can we take our game to? What level can we take our game to?"

The Springboks have played to their imposing forward strength during the whole tournament, most notably in grinding out a 19-16 win over Wales that took them to Saturday's showpiece match in Yokohama.

While also boasting plenty of power up front, England have played more expansively in knockout wins over Australia (44-16) and the All Blacks (19-7).

"We've had four years to prepare for this game," added Jones after naming an unchanged line-up for the final. "We've got good tactical clarity about how we want to play, we're fit. So we want to play with no fear on Saturday, just get out there and play the game."

England will kick off as the world's No 1 ranked side, with South Africa second, but Jones insisted that was of "no concern" when the final gets underway.

England captain and goal-kicker Owen Farrell, retained at inside centre in a dual playmaker set-up with fly-half George Ford, added: "We've done all the preparation in terms of on-field stuff. We'll make sure the mental side of it builds up from now."

As for coping with rising public expectations, Jones insisted: "There has been no higher expectation than within the team.

"We started out the first day wanting to be the best team in the world. So that's where we wanted to go.

"Three weeks ago, we were hopeless, I was going to get the sack, Owen couldn't kick a goal. So we don't tend to listen to that noise."

Jones reckoned a pivotal moment in England's progress had been a 31-21 Six Nations win away to France that saw them to a 2016 Grand Slam.

"In any team's development you have wins that are important and losses that are important," he said. "We started the game probably within ourselves and it took us until the second half to find ourselves.

"It's a great lesson for this week that we have to go out there and make the game, take the game to South Africa."

He would love a repeat of last week's 19-7 win against against New Zealand. England blasted out of the blocks to score a try inside two minutes and kept up the assault so relentlessly that they became only the second team to keep the All Blacks scoreless at halftime in a World Cup match.

But he wants even more. "We can definitely play better," he said. "The players know that. There's a steeliness about them this week but also a nice relaxed feeling because they know they've done the work so they can get on with the job.

"We are a bit anxious, a bit nervous, but also very excited about the prospect of playing even better."

Updated: October 31, 2019 03:19 PM



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