Sam Simmonds says England’s players are behind under-fire head coach Eddie Jones

England could finish as low as fifth in the Six Nations for a second successive year

Duncan Bech
Tuesday 15 March 2022 15:42
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Eddie Jones’ position as England boss is under scrutiny after another disappointing Six Nations (Adam Davy/PA)
Eddie Jones’ position as England boss is under scrutiny after another disappointing Six Nations (Adam Davy/PA)

Sam Simmonds insists England’s players are fully behind Eddie Jones as the head coach attempts to rescue a disappointing Guinness Six Nations from calamity.

England could finish as low as fifth for a second successive year if they are defeated by Grand Slam-chasing France on Saturday and results in Cardiff and Dublin go against them.

And while that is the gloomiest possible scenario, ending the Championship in the bottom half of the table after falling to three defeats – the same number endured in 2021 – is a very real prospect.

Jones on Monday faced questions over whether he is the right man to lead England to the 2023 World Cup and while stating that they are part of the job, he added that “I don’t think it helps being an Australian”.

A battling defeat to Ireland in round four, fought out with 14 men for all but 82 seconds after Charlie Ewels was sent off for a high tackle, has spared Jones greater scrutiny and Simmonds insists he has the support of the team.

Sam Simmonds says England’s players are behind their head coach (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Eddie’s experience in the game is amazing. When he talks, boys listen,” the Exeter number eight said.

“I feel like as a group, probably in this campaign more than any other, we’ve come together as a squad.

“Although that maybe hasn’t been reflected in the results against Scotland and Ireland, I feel like people could see at Twickenham on Saturday what it meant for us to play for England.

“Also, we’re not just playing for England, we’re playing for the coaches. It’s big to see that and how much confidence we have in what Eddie does and in how we play the game at the weekend.

“He’s improved my game and I wouldn’t say there is a player who has left camp who hasn’t improved and taken on board the things that Eddie’s said.”

France are strong favourites to lift a first Six Nations crown for 12 years and apart from a hard-fought clash with Wales in round four, they have made impressive progress through the tournament, with Ireland their only remaining rival for the title.

But Simmonds insists they are not impenetrable, with their colossal pack an asset but also a potential Achilles heel that can be exposed by a high-tempo game.

“They’ve got a lot to play for, but so have we. They’re renowned for having a big pack but we’ve spoken a lot about how we can counteract what they do and potentially try to move them around a little bit more, to dampen down their strengths and turn them into weaknesses,” Simmonds said.

“They’ve got star players across the board, guys like Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack can pull things out of the hat like a lot of people can’t.”

There was much to admire in England’s defiance shown in round four, but they still crashed to a 32-15 defeat that was their heaviest to Ireland at Twickenham.

“We put a lot into it emotionally and physically. It was sad to come up short, but as a team we probably learnt a lot more losing that game than winning,” Simmonds said.

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