Eddie Jones has sent his Grand Slam squad back to their clubs with the clear instruction that they need to return even better players to beat the best in the southern hemisphere. The England players have also been told that none of them is guaranteed their place.

The head coach set the example early on Monday morning by passing up on a rest day after the exertions of the past seven weeks and driving to Leicester to speak to their director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, ­before returning to London for ­media duties, while insisting that there can be “no excuses” to be found in blaming the English ­system for any failure to compete on level terms with the superpowers of the southern hemisphere.


Jones did note that “everyone sees that England are going in the right direction and that can only be healthy for the game and world rugby is healthier for a strong ­England side”.

He is adamant that his brief to his players will see them ­return in prime shape for their three-Test tour to Australia in June. By that time, Jones hopes to have added a part-time attack coach to his ­management team and still ­harbours hopes of approaching Jonny Wilkinson to continue in his role as ad-hoc kicking coach for the trip Down Under.

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