Eddie Jones concedes England captain Farrell is long way from his best

Eddie Jones concedes Owen Farrell is ‘not at his best’ as England head coach admits skipper’s drop is form during Six Nations is baffling

  • Owen Farrell came under criticism following England’s shock loss to Scotland
  • The England skipper was then moved to inside centre in the win over Italy 
  • The ploy did not markedly enhance Farrell’s own performance against Italy 

Eddie Jones conceded on Tuesday that Owen Farrell is not playing well and that England have not yet worked out the cause of the captain’s loss of form.

After the national team’s shock defeat by Scotland in their Six Nations opener, head coach Jones moved swiftly to defend Farrell and dismiss calls to drop him on the strength of what he argued was a blip.

Instead, the skipper was switched back to inside centre to operate alongside George Ford against Italy. The ploy did not markedly enhance Farrell’s own performance, but the team played better.

Eddie Jones has admitted that England skipper Owen Farrell is a long way from his best

When Jones was asked to respond to critics who have pointed out that Farrell is a long way from his best, he said: ‘There have been very few players in our team who have been at their best. Owen is one of those who hasn’t and he knows that.

‘He’s working very hard to get his game back to the standard that he wants and we want, and there’s no doubt he’ll get back there.’

Asked if the lack of game-time prior to the championship was a factor, Jones replied: ‘For every player it’s different so it could be. We don’t know. 

‘There could be something going on at home, there could be something going on at his club that’s affecting him — we don’t know. He’s not at his best at the moment and we’re working really hard to make sure he gets to his best. 

England’s head coach admits he has not yet worked out the cause of the captain’s loss of form

Farrell came under criticism after England’s shock loss to Scotland in the Six Nations opener

Another Saracen out of form is Billy Vunipola. The No 8 has been selected to start both games more on reputation than performance, and his head coach is hoping to see more impact in attack.

‘We want him to carry as much as possible,’ said Jones. ‘He’s an influential ball-carrier. We saw him at his best in the Autumn Nations Cup final against France, at the end of the game when he’s making those kick-return carries, getting into the opposition.’

Jones expressed support for the plan to extend the next World Cup by a week, as revealed by Sportsmail on Tuesday, to guarantee fair rest periods for all countries.

In 2015, his Japan team upset the Springboks in Brighton, then lost to Scotland a few days later.

‘Anything we can do to make it fair and equitable is good,’ said Jones.

‘Anything we can do to make it better in terms of player welfare is good. 

Another star out of form is Billy Vunipola and Jones is hoping to see more from him in attack

‘I know when we (Japan) played South Africa in 2015 we played on the Saturday, got on the bus on the Sunday, recovered on the Monday, trained on the Tuesday and played again on the Wednesday. It was a tough turn-around and I don’t think it is fair for some teams to do that and not others.’

England have not demanded action against Italy’s Sebastian Negri for the ‘crocodile roll’ that left Jack Willis in agony. Wasps confirmed on Tuesday that Willis, 24, requires surgery on serious medial ligament damage and is out for the season.

Jones offered encouragement, saying: ‘There’s no reason he can’t come back bigger and better.’

Eddie Jones is an Umbro ambassador. For more information visit: www.umbro.co.uk/rugby or follow @Umbro_Rugby on Instagram.

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