Jones: Lions tour an unwanted distraction

The 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand is an unwanted distraction for England coach Eddie Jones ahead of the Six Nations.

Warren Gatland's Lions face the All Blacks in three Tests from June and many players in Jones' squad are expected to challenge for positions after a dominant 2016.

England won every match last year on their way to the Six Nations grand slam, a 3-0 series whitewash over Australia and November victories over South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and the Wallabies.

Maintaining that form will be tough as they prepare to defend their Six Nations title and Jones hopes the prospect of a Lions place does not break some of his player's focus.

"If you read anything at the moment, all the players are talking about is the Lions," he told a media conference after naming his 34-man squad.

"Particularly in 2017 the Lions is a massive attraction, but it can be a massive distraction with players focusing on future rather than what's going on at the moment.

"We have got a lot of distractions in front of us, but part of our job [as coaches] is to make sure we get the focus right, and that's on beating France.

"Our aim is to win the Six Nations, we are not trying to hide that, and to do that we have to play each game very well."

Dylan Hartley's chances of making that opening match with France at Twickenham on February four are "seven out of 10" according to Jones.

"He is moving in the right direction," Jones added. "In [November] we would have given him a five out of 10, now he's a seven.

"Given he has couple of days of training, we anticipate him being in the reckoning for the first game. 

"I'll have a look at him [before deciding if he'll play]."

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