EDDIE JONES has rediscovered his mojo. That mischievous Jack Nicholson grin is back on the Aussie’s chops.
England’s head coach watched his men announce themselves as potential world champions with a stunning demolition of Six Nations favourites Ireland.
4 England head coach Eddie Jones saw his side batter Ireland
But after this blazing new dawn for English rugby, how can Jones sustain such peak performance levels all the way to the Land of the Rising Sun this autumn?
Four years ago, England kicked off a World Cup year by travelling to Cardiff and pulling off a shock comeback victory over a confident Wales team.
It was hailed as the finest win of Stuart Lancaster’s reign and it left the English dreaming of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup at Twickenham.
Well, we all know how that one ended up.
AFP4 England celebrate a try as they beat fancied Ireland in Dublin
England, having failed to win the Six Nations, were turfed out of their own tournament at the group stage, thanks to defeats by Wales and Australia.
Lancaster, who’d signed a long-term contract before that World Cup, was out on his ear.
Five of the England players who crushed Ireland on Saturday featured in that victory at the Millennium Stadium — the Vunipola brothers, Jonny May, Ben Youngs and George Kruis.
And head coach Jones, a very different beast to Lancaster, is determined to ensure there is no repeat of 2015.
Jones, who has led Australia and Japan into previous World Cups and was part of South Africa’s victorious set-up in 2007, says the ability to sustain success is becoming ever harder as rugby becomes more demanding.
Sportsfile – Subscription4 Maro Itoje bust his knee in a huge blow to England
And you suspect he fears England might have peaked too soon with a comprehensive 32-20 defeat of an Ireland team billed as the only threat to New Zealand claiming a third straight World Cup in Japan.
Jones said: “Having been involved in three World Cups, I know the period that counts to have the team at its best is just before the World Cup.
“It’s very hard to sustain absolute outstanding performance for a long time because the game’s so exacting now.
“What Mako Vunipola did against Ireland — he’s 125kg, big enough to be a sumo wrestler, he’s making so many tackles, carrying the ball ten times, he’s scrummaging and lifting in the lineout…
“The intensity in the game is such that you’ve got to work out when you’re going to peak and when you want to take it off a bit.
“That’s certainly at the back of our minds. But as long as the players keep having that absolute desire to be the best in the world, we’ll keep growing as a team.”