Bonus points have no influence over me: Jones

England's head coach Eddie Jones watches as his players warm up ahead of the international rugby union test match between England and Australia at Twickenham stadium in London on Dec 3, 2016.
England's head coach Eddie Jones watches as his players warm up ahead of the international rugby union test match between England and Australia at Twickenham stadium in London on Dec 3, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Eddie Jones does not believe that the introduction of bonus points in rugby's Six Nations this year will make any difference to the style of play of sides in the tournament, as he works to ensure that England set a fast pace in their opening match against France at Twickenham on Feb 4.

The England coach will be without at least three forwards for the start of the tournament, with the Vunipola brothers and Joe Launchbury injured, while Chris Robshaw is unlikely to be available for at least the opening two rounds with a shoulder problem.

George Kruis will not play for Saracens this month because of a cheekbone fracture and the captain, Dylan Hartley, returns from suspension after the conclusion of the European Champions Cup pool stage in two weeks.

"Teams were frightened of losing in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations last year," Jones said. "They played well within themselves and did not want to take any risks, but the quality was much better on the final two weekends.

"We want to change that... I want us to go out there and set a benchmark in the first game.

"The Six Nations is a unique competition because of the intensity of the rivalry. If we can get the rugby to a great level, it will become the greatest tournament in the world.

"I don't think bonus points (which are being trialled in this year's tournament) will have any influence. I have coached for 20 years and it has not had one iota of influence on how I have gone about things.

"If you play good rugby, you secure a bonus point; if you don't, you don't."

Jones, who gathered his squad in Brighton last Monday and Tuesday, says he is not concerned about the style of play in the Premiership where, Saracens and Wasps aside, teams have been inconsistent this season.

"I don't care how clubs play, that is their business," he said.

"It is all about the skill level of the players: someone who is skilful can play any way he wants. I don't control that so there's no use in me worrying about it."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Bonus points have no influence over me: Jones'. Print Edition | Subscribe