Rugby: Southgate is Jones' secret weapon before Wales game

Above: Ben Te'o scoring a late try to give England a winning start in their Six Nations title defence. Despite Saturday's 19-16 home win over France, England were uninspiring and will need to raise their game in Cardiff against Wales, who were rampan
Above: Ben Te'o scoring a late try to give England a winning start in their Six Nations title defence. Despite Saturday's 19-16 home win over France, England were uninspiring and will need to raise their game in Cardiff against Wales, who were rampant in their victory over Italy.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Above: England football manager Gareth Southgate was invited to share his expertise during training, with Eddie Jones hoping it will help his side conquer their nerves against Wales.
Above: England football manager Gareth Southgate was invited to share his expertise during training, with Eddie Jones hoping it will help his side conquer their nerves against Wales.PHOTOS: REUTERS

LONDON • England rugby coach Eddie Jones has been picking the brains of his football counterpart, Gareth Southgate, as he searches for an answer to why England are "petrified of playing Wales in Wales" on Saturday.

Southgate and the Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander spent Tuesday at England's Bagshot training base, addressing Jones' coaching staff in the wake of last Saturday's lacklustre 19-16 victory over France.

Jones later accepted blame for that "awful" performance. And the Australian has since been plotting how to improve England's record in Wales, where he is expecting a hostility that extends to "daffodils (being) thrown in the warm-up".

"We've had a brilliant learning day today with Gareth and Lisa," he said. "As we've always stated, our aim is to get better every day and we want to get people into camp who have knowledge and great experience to learn from."

England triumphed 21-16 on their last visit to Cardiff under Stuart Lancaster two years ago, but their 30-3 hammering in 2013 was the fourth defeat they had suffered across the Severn Bridge since 2005.

This is not the first time Jones has turned to other sports to bring an extra edge to his side.

After guiding England to a series whitewash over Australia last summer, he spent a day with Orica-BikeExchange at the Tour de France and recently invited the former England footballer Danny Mills to speak about the difficulties of playing in a World Cup in Japan.

The defence coach, Paul Gustard, also recently revealed England had been learning mixed martial arts techniques. But not all forays into other sports have been a success.

After judo sessions were introduced at last October's training camp in Brighton, the Wasps flanker Sam Jones suffered a broken leg.

Wales flanker Sam Warburton believes England merit comparison with the All Blacks and says they are the best team in the northern hemisphere.

Warburton, who stood out in Wales's 33-7 win in Italy on Sunday, says even though Jones' men will be without half of their first-choice pack through injury, the home side will have to be at their best to end a run of three straight Six Nations losses to England.

"England is always one of the toughest games you will play, regardless of what side they bring, as they proved in Cardiff two years ago," he said.

"They are deservedly tagged as the best team in the northern hemisphere and it is a fair judgment to compare them to the All Blacks: That's how good they are."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Southgate is Jones' secret weapon before Wales game'. Print Edition | Subscribe