“That rat poison gets into players’ heads.”
England boss Eddie Jones has hit out at media critics of his team, saying that his players have been ‘infected’ with the ‘rat poison’ of what has been written in recent weeks.
England head into Saturday’s final Six Nations match with Ireland on the back of a topsy-turvy few months which has seen them lose to Scotland and Wales but beat Italy and France.
The defeats by Scotland and Wales attracted criticism of Jones’ side, although they earned plaudits for the manner in which they toppled Les Bleus at Twickenham last week.
Speaking ahead of England’s trip to Dublin to face Ireland, Jones said via The Guardian: “I’ve never seen confidence walk through the door, so I don’t know what confidence is.
“Players might think differently, they might work a bit harder, they might work a little bit less.
“I don’t think there is any such thing as confidence, you either think rightly or you think wrongly, and the wrong time you start to listen to the poison that’s written in the media, that rat poison gets into players’ heads.
“We try to keep it out of their head. We try to spray all that rat poison that you try to put in and get it out of their head, so we are always working hard to keep it out of their heads. It keeps me busy, mate.”
Jones has made one change to the starting XV that beat France with Elliot Daly recalled at outside-centre in place of the injured Henry Slade.
However, the 61-year-old warned against expecting another free-flowing attacking display as he predicted an “attritional” battle with Ireland as England look to secure their fifth successive win over Saturday’s opponents.
‘We’re trying to take the poison out of the players’ minds.’
Eddie Jones v animated today about the outside noise. Full interview & plenty of chat ahead of Eng v Ire and Wales’ Grand Slam showdown on bonus RUW podcast out shortly… pic.twitter.com/FG732JqCvB
— Chris Jones BBC (@chjones9) March 18, 2021
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show we have learned to understand what the game will present and play the game to the best of our ability, which we weren’t able to do in the World Cup final [against South Africa],” added Jones.
“Experience tells us that if you play in a game like that, like the World Cup semi-final where there is a lot of ball movement, the next game generally the opposition try to take that away from you.”
Ireland v England teams.
Ireland: Keenan; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton (capt), Murray; Kilcoyne, Herring, Furlong, Henderson, Beirne, Stander, Van der Flier, Conan.
Replacements: Kelleher, Healy, Porter, Baird, O’Mahony, Gibson-Park, Burns, Larmour.
England: Malins; Watson, Daly, Farrell (capt), May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Itoje, Ewels, Wilson, Curry, B Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Genge, Stuart, Hill, Earl, Robson, Lawrence, Marchant.