No one owns an England shirt, warns Eddie Jones as he shifts his focus to the Six Nations
The coach calls on his players to work hard to earn their spot as the likes of star forward Maro Itoje and James Haskell work their way back from injury
Eddie Jones put his England players on notice by warning none of them own a test shirt after a perfect first year as Red Rose boss ended with victory over his native Australia.
England’s 37-21 defeat of the Wallabies at Twickenham saw them equal their national record of 14 successive test victories set by Clive Woodward’s World Cup winners in 2002-03.
It also meant Australian coach Jones’ first year as England boss finished with a perfect played 13, won 13 record.
England won on the weekend despite the absence of injured first-choice forwards, Billy Vunipola, James Haskell and Maro Itoje.
But Jones warned that no one “owned” an England shirt.
“If you don’t keep performing, you won’t be in the team,” he said.
“If players aren’t hungry and you see it in their performance straight away, then they won’t be here.
“We have enough depth to change the squad if we need to,” added Jones as he looked ahead to the defence of a Six Nations title his England side won with a grand slam in 2016.
“No one owns an English jersey, you borrow the jersey for 80 minutes. You’re lucky to get it again, you have to work hard to get it and if you don’t have the right attitude, then you won’t get it.”
But only injury is likely to deny Owen Farrell a place in the side after Jones labelled the inside centre as England’s “standard bearer”.
Saturday saw Farrell land all his six goal-kicks against the Wallabies despite not being fully fit in the view of his coach.
“Owen is the spirit of the team. He’s an absolute competitor,” Jones said.
“He hasn’t been at his best this autumn – it’s quite clear he’s still recovering from his back injury. I’d say he’s probably been at 80 per cent of his total fitness.
“To win those four tests when your inside centre is nowhere near his best is a pretty good effort. He’s enormous for us. He’s the standard bearer.”
Jones has known of Farrell’s ability since the midfielder was a teenager.
“He’s always been a fantastic player,” he said. “I knew him from when I was at Saracens. I signed him to the academy there, because I knew he had a massive potential and a competitive desire – like his dad [dual-code international Andy].
The last look
Relive the drama and the action as England end 2016 unbeaten with victory over Australia. pic.twitter.com/xsKVOH6P6X
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) December 4, 2016
“He played a trial against Toulon when he was only about 16 and nine months and Sonny Bill Williams was making his debut for Toulon.
“Owen got the ball and Sonny Bill Williams whacked him and stood over the top of him.
“He just bounced up on his feet and continued on like nothing had happened. You could tell he was going to be a good player.”
Ben Youngs is another back who appears to have strengthened his place in the team after Jones told the scrum half he needed to get fitter.
Youngs, who scored the third of England’s four tries on Saturday with a quickly taken tap penalty where he dummied opposing No 9 Nick Phipps, said: “I am really enjoying my rugby and that’s credit to Eddie.
“He’s not letting me have any chocolate. When I first turned up he said I needed to be lighter and leaner.
“The way the game is going, it is quicker and faster and he needed me to operate at a higher level.
“When a coach tells you to lose a couple of kilos there could be a lot worse things to work on.”