England head coach Eddie Jones has warned his record-equalling players that an unbeaten 2016 will not shield them from the axe should standards slip prior to next year’s Six Nations.
Jones led England to their 14th consecutive victory – the 13th of his reign – with a 37-21 triumph over bitter foes Australia on Saturday, a result which levelled the previous national record set by Sir Clive Woodward’s World Cup heirs in 2003.
A Pennyhill Park debrief yesterday preceded the players returning to their clubs, and while Jones insists he knows the exact make-up of the Six Nations squad he would like to select, a drop in performance levels will not be tolerated.
“If they don’t keep performing, they won’t be in the team,” said Jones. “No-one owns an English jersey, they borrow the jersey for 80 minutes and if they’re lucky enough to get it again, they’ll have worked hard to get it.
“If players aren’t hungry then you can see it in their performance straight away, and they won’t be here. We have got enough depth to change the squad if we need to.
“But also intrinsically you want the players to just want to do it, and we’re developing players like that.
“When you get six, seven or eight players with that absolute desire to do well then if you’re not in that group then you tend to fall out. That is how great teams keep getting better. We haven’t got that tipping point yet. We’re moving towards it.
“A team is a dynamic organism and it has its own life. You’ve just got to keep doing the right things, keep doing the right processes and eventually it will come together.”
Jones has made no secret of his overriding aim to guide England to the world’s No1 spot, the next stage of which is retaining their Six Nations crown. A second successive Grand Slam would see his charges surpass New Zealand’s record of 18 straight Test wins.
“Being an outsider in the Six Nations, I thought there was an absolute fear of losing, rather than wanting to win,” added Jones.
“What we want to do in the Six Nations is go out there and win it and that’s the attitude we want to have.”
England's perfect year
6 Feb 2016: Scotland 9-15 England
14 Feb 2016: Italy 9-40 England
27 Feb 2016: England 21-10 Ireland
12 March 2016: England 25-21 Wales
19 March 2016: France 21-31 England
29 May 2016: England 27-13 Wales
11 June 2016: Australia 28-39 England
18 June 2016: Australia 7-23 England
25 June 2016: Australia 40-44 England
12 Nov 2016: England 37-21 South Africa
19 Nov 2016: England 58-15 Fiji
26 Nov 2016: England 27-14 Argentina
3 Dec 2016: England 37-21 Australia