Ireland loss won't derail England's World Cup plans – Jones
England coach Eddie Jones insists his plans have not been blown off course by his side’s defeat by Ireland in Dublin.
Chasing back-to-back Grand Slams, England lost 13-9 at the Aviva Stadium to end a run of 18 straight victories.
But Jones says the squad is in a better place than it was six months ago as he builds towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“One game doesn’t change our plan. You are putting too much significance on a loss,” he said.
“This result doesn’t change the plan at all. Did you think we would never get defeated?
“We’ve got a plan in place so I know what we’ve got to do to be at our best for the World Cup, and one game doesn’t affect our perception of people, or the team.”
Jones admits England’s mindset was not quite right in Dublin, but denies there was a shortage of intensity from his men compared to the Irish.
“I don’t think I gave the team the right environment to prepare well,” he continued.
“I don’t think I created the absolute right mindset for the team, and I need to look at what I said and what I didn’t say and improve on that in the future.
“But I don’t think we lacked intensity, or we lacked passion, or we lacked a desire or we lacked effort. I disagree with that very strongly. Ireland played really well.”
Jones says it is “too early” to make calls on whether some players are nearing the end of their time in an England shirt.
However, the Australian says the end of 2017 will mark the conclusion of the first phase of his four-year project ahead of the World Cup in Japan.
“There are three projects in a World Cup project,” he explained.
“There are the first two years, the second two years, and then three months leading in to the Cup.
“We don’t have to make decisions on players until at least the end of the first two-year project [end of 2017].
“I sit here today and I think we are in a much better position now than we were 12 months ago, and six months ago. We are moving in the right direction.”
England’s next Test match is against Argentina in June, when a host of players will be away on the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
Jones says he is in discussions with some players about them missing the trip to South America if they do not make the Lions party.
Two or three players from the Grand Slam-winning England Under-20s will be included in the squad to face the Pumas.
“Everyone wants to get selected for the Lions,” Jones added.
“I’m sure Warren [Gatland, the Lions’ head coach] has already picked the squad so maybe he might give me a whisper.
“Once that is selected then I will have a look at each player. There are a couple of players I have already had discussions with about if they don’t make the Lions whether it is more in their interests to have a longer off-season.
“It will be a case by case basis, and it keeps coming back to everyone wanting to play for England and not wanting to give up their shirt. So we will balance that out.”
What does Jones think of his squad?
After two Six Nations in charge, Jones runs the rule over his England squad:
Front row: “We don’t have three tightheads. We’ve got Dan Cole doing an exceptional job, we’ve got Kyle Sinckler coming through. We want Paul Hill to come through, and we want one more in that position to come through. The rest of the front row is pretty good.”
Second row: “At lock we’re exceptional. At this stage Maro Itoje is essentially a lock who can fill in at the back row. Courtney Lawes is the same and that adds great flexibility.”
Back row: “Like always we still need to revise the back row and see how we can improve it.”
Half-backs: “We need a third scrum-half, but for fly-halves we’re good.”
Centres: “We’re good at 12 and at 13.”
Wingers: “We’re outstanding for wings.”
Full-back: “We’re still looking for other options. We do need a couple of other guys, but I think they are within the squad.”