Eddie Jones insists England’s current level of fitness is adequate for the RBS 6 Nations but would be exposed on the summer tour to Australia unless improvements are made.
The Jones era was launched successfully with Saturday’s 15-9 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield and continues this weekend when Italy will be hoping to claim a first Red Rose scalp.
England drew pride in their conditioning under Stuart Lancaster and spoke at length about the effort put into their summer-long training camp in preparation for the World Cup, which ended in a group exit and without any discernible physical advantage over their rivals.
Jones is merely satisfied with the fitness of his players and believes work will need to be done if they are to challenge Australia over three Tests this summer.
“The players are fit enough to play in the Six Nations but won’t be fit enough to play in Australia on hard tracks, definitely,” Jones said.
“Fitness is not about straight fitness – it’s game-specific fitness. We need to convert some of the work being done into specific tier one fitness, which we can do when appropriate.”
When asked if the required conditioning can be achieved in time for the summer tour, Jones replied: “One hundred per cent. We need to work with the clubs and look at the strategy. We’ve got a couple of weeks lead-in to the tour.
“There is specific fitness for rugby and the only way you get that is by training specifically for rugby. You don’t get it by doing other things. We will pick up a considerable amount.
“By the time we have finished this Six Nations we will be a fitter side than we are now.
“I’m not saying we are unfit at the moment but there are periods of time in the game when we haven’t got the concentration and the application to be able to do what we want to do.
“We will pick that up through training and by the end of the Six Nations we will be in pretty good fettle.
“The hope is that the players understand where they need to be at for international rugby and they will continue to do that with their clubs. Then we will top them up for the Australian tour.”