England head coach Eddie Jones said “someone is going to die” as he turned up the heat ahead of his side’s Rugby World Cup blockbuster against Australia.
A spot in the World Cup semi-final will be up for grabs when England and rivals Australia meet in Oita on Saturday.
Expectations are high for England, who are led by former Wallabies coach Jones, and the 59-year-old Australian used ancient Japanese Warriors as a way to describe his team.
“How many samurai have we got: 23, mate. And we’ve got eight in the caves up there,” Jones told reporters, pointing to the hills behind the England hotel in Beppu.
“That is where all the samurai lived. Every time the samurai fought, one lived, and one died. It will be the same on Saturday. Someone is going to live, and someone is going to die. That’s what the game is about and that’s the excitement. You get the best eight teams, all playing for their lives.
“The great thing about the World Cup is that every game is a knockout. No one has won a World Cup after losing a game and there is a reason for that. That’s what I enjoy so much about a World Cup, every game is a knockout. Every game is potentially a knockout.”
Jones, meanwhile, called on England skipper Owen Farrell to concentrate on himself after focusing on the team during the pool stage.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) October 17, 2019
“The responsibility of being captain at the World Cup is much larger than normal test matches, because you’re bringing a group of 31 players together for… how long have we been together now? Eight or nine weeks,” Jones said.
“You get all the family issues. You go to the dinner table, one brother is happy, one brother is unhappy. Someone doesn’t know if they are happy or not. He’s the father of that group so to speak. His ability to delegate, to know what to say to players is a challenging experience for a young guy like him. He’s coping with it really well.
“I feel like sometimes, maybe earlier in the tournament, he spent too much time in the captaincy area and not enough on his own individual prep, but I’ve seen a real change in that this week.
“Why was [Australia cricket star] Steve Smith so successful in the Ashes? One of the reasons was he didn’t have to worry about the bowling team, he didn’t have to worry about setting fields. All he had to worry about was batting. It’s much simpler when you’re just a player. When you are captain, you’ve got more responsibilities, and as you go on as a captain you learn how to get the balance right.
“Owen is a warrior. He leads from the front, competes and he’s tough. And that’s what we’ve tried to produce in this team. We’ve got a tough team that competes hard and that’s how we want to play. That’s the England style of playing.”
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