LONDON (AP) England cannot afford to keep making sloppy starts if it hopes to stretch its record unbeaten run to 16 rugby tests, coach Eddie Jones says.
Next up in the Six Nations is Wales on Saturday in Cardiff, a traditionally hostile venue for the English.
England began its title defense last Saturday with a scrappy 19-16 victory over France at Twickenham, a win achieved thanks to a late try from Ben Te’o.
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Jones said one positive was how England played in the last 20 minutes, but ”we have got another 60 minutes to fix.”
He hinted that England’s slow starts in recent games – it also had to overcome an awful start against Australia at Twickenham in December – could be down to some complacency.
”The more games you win the more you think you are going to win, and sometimes that can mean that you don’t take the game by the horns at the start,” Jones told Sky Sports News on Monday.
”We really need to do that this week against Wales. If we allow Wales into the game and allow them to get some easy points, the crowd comes into it, the crowd affects the referee, then you are in a real bun fight. We don’t want to be in a bun fight in Wales.”
England found itself trailing 10-0 to Wales on its last visit to Cardiff in 2015 before fighting back to win 21-16.
But England has a mediocre record when they cross the River Severn estuary into Wales. Wales leads the matchups 28-15 at home, with three draws, and has won five of England’s last seven visits.
Jones struggled to pronounce ”Severn” on Monday and the Australian was just as confused as to why England has fared badly in Wales.
”No-one can tell me why the English are so petrified of playing Wales in Wales,” he said after the France match.
”I will talk to a few blokes who have played there to figure out what the problem is and why the record is so horrendous, because it is horrendous”.
Asked if he would be tempted to make team changes, Jones said on Monday, ”Not really.
”It was our first game of the tournament. We’ll certainly look at the team to see how we can improve it but generally speaking we’ll be fairly consistent in terms of our selection.”