Jones dismisses talk of World Cup hangover

Eddie Jones denied England’s sluggish first-half performance in their 24-17 loss against France was the consequence of a World Cup hangover.

Jonny May’s brace of tries after the break could not drag England back from a shocking start in their Guinness Six Nations opener, with Jones’ men conceding 24 unanswered points to Les Bleus thanks to a score from Vincent Rattez and two from captain Charles Ollivon.

Much more was expected from a side who confidently powered their way to the World Cup final with dominating victories over Australia and New Zealand. Instead there were flashbacks to their stuttering showing against South Africa, France gaining the upper hand early on and England struggling for ideas in the face of inspired opponents.

But Jones was at pains to concentrate on how his side managed to pull themselves back into contention in the hostile environment of the Stade de France.

“I don’t think we would have seen the response we got in the second half if we had a mental hangover,” he said.

“It was one of those games where France played well, I think we should be giving France credit. We weren’t good enough in the first half and they were very good.

“But I was really pleased with our second half. That was a game that could have been quite ugly for us. The crowd was going nuts, they got a bit of a roll on and I thought the response of our players in the second half was absolutely outstanding.”

England’s cause early on was not helped by centre Manu Tuilagi limping off after 15 minutes with a groin problem.

Manu Tuilagi, centre
Manu Tuilagi, centre, was forced off early in the game (David Davies/PA)

It is not immediately apparent how serious the injury is, but Jones will be concerned about a player who has spent a fair portion of his career on the treatment table.

“Obviously he’s a big gain-line player for us and in those conditions we definitely did miss him, but you’ve got to be good enough to cope with that,” said Jones.

“We’ll just wait and see. Like all of these things he’ll get the appropriate medical check and we’ll work it out from there.

“The only thing I know is that unfortunately we’re going to go to Scotland with an L next to our name instead of a W which we wanted, but nothing else changes.

“We don’t want to play another 40 minutes like we played today, that’s obvious.

“The result of the game doesn’t affect selection. Selection will always be we pick a side that wants to win. Why would a result like this change the 23 for the next game?”

Fabien Galthie
Fabien Galthie and France made a flying start (David Davies/PA)

France, on the other hand, can attack their remaining Six Nations games with optimism after a performance full of verve and energy.

After his first game at the helm, coach Fabien Galthie said: “What made the difference was the players and the solidarity when England came back in the second half.

“Our team was well-positioned, well-organised and fought back every time to win the power struggle.

“Scoring three times against the English under the rain is something. We showed our know-how.

“The staff have been working hard for the last two months working on the details that led us to this great victory.”

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