Jones strikes back at Gatland’s criticism ahead of World Cup final

Eddie Jones has hit back at Warren Gatland after the Wales coach questioned whether England have played their World Cup final a game early by overwhelming New Zealand.

Gatland was speaking after his team had been beaten 19-16 by South Africa, who now face Jones's men on Saturday in a repeat of the 2007 showpiece.

Meanwhile, Wales face the All Blacks in the bronze final 24 hours earlier – which was Gatland's last match as boss.

"Well, guys, can you just send my best wishes to Warren to make sure he enjoys the third and fourth place play-off?" Jones said at a press conference.

Jones and Gatland are long-standing sparring partners and the outgoing Wales boss made a pointed remark about England's crushing win against the reigning world champions.

"We have seen in previous World Cups that teams sometimes play their final in semi-finals and don't always turn up for a final," Gatland said.

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Rugby World Cup: England storm to victory
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Rugby World Cup: England storm to victory
England's head coach Eddie Jones (R) and New Zealand's head coach Steve Hansen react after the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 26, 2019. (Photo by Odd Andersen / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand looks on during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
England's players celebrate after winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 26, 2019. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: George Ford of England celebrates after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
England's George Kruis (left) and Manu Tuilagi after the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match at International Stadium Yokohama.
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Ben Youngs of England scores a try before being disallowed during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Richie Mo'Unga of New Zealand converts his teams first try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Ardie Savea and Sevu Reece of New Zealand look on in disappointment during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Sevu Reece of New Zealand catches the ball ahead of Elliot Daly of England during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams passes the ball during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match at International Stadium Yokohama. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)
England's players celebrate after winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 26, 2019. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
England's players celebrate after winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 26, 2019. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Sevu Reece of New Zealand catches the ball ahead of Elliot Daly of England during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: TJ Perenara and Rieko Ioane of New Zealand applaud the crowd after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Francois Nel - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: England fans celebrate the win during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: George Ford of England celebrates after winning the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
New Zealand's Sevu Reece is tackled by Englands Henry Slade which is then referred to the TMO but escapes any punishment during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match at International Stadium Yokohama. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)
England fans celebrate after the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match at International Stadium Yokohama. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Sam Underhill of England applauds the crowd after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 26: Henry Slade of England is tackled by Sevu Reece of New Zealand during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
New Zealand's Sevu Reece is tackled by Englands Henry Slade which is then referred to the TMO but escapes any punishment during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match at International Stadium Yokohama. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)
New Zealand's scrum-half TJ Perenara catches the ball during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 26, 2019. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)
New Zealand's Kieran Read covered in blood after the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match at International Stadium Yokohama.
New Zealand's Sevu Reece is tackled by England�s Henry Slade which is then referred to the TMO but escapes any punishment during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match at International Stadium Yokohama.
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"So it will be interesting to see how England are next week and it could be a good game."

Jones has delivered a major boost to the nation's hopes of winning a second World Cup by declaring Jonny May has recovered well from the dead leg sustained in the 19-7 rout of New Zealand.

The Leicester try machine was touch and go to face the All Blacks because of a hamstring issue and having recovered from that, he lasted 45 minutes before suffering an additional injury setback.

"We had a walk through this (Monday) morning and we had to tell Jonny to slow down a bit," Jones said.

"He's probably in better condition than he was last week at this stage. Immeasurably better."

Owen Farrell also incurred a dead leg in the first-half of arguably the greatest victory in English rugby history but he managed to finish the match, albeit while handing the kicking duties to George Ford.

England's Kyle Sinckler enters a tackle
England had to defeat New Zealand to make the final (Ashley Western/PA)

"Owen's a bit sore but he'll be fine. We've got a few others carrying bumps and bruises because it was a tough old game," Jones said.

Jones has urged England to continue lifting the Brexit-induced gloom by overcoming South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama.

"It's great – you give the country something to cheer about and with Brexit at the moment they probably need something to cheer about," Jones said.

"It's the job of a team to make the country happy and we've made the country happy. Not as happy as they can be because there is still a game to go as we've said.

"The crowds here generally in the World Cup have been fantastic and I thought our supporters on Saturday night were massively instrumental in helping us get home.

"Their singing and their general support of the team has been outstanding. We urge them to keep doing that."

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