Jones claims England can exploit pressure on France in ‘dress rehearsal’ | England rugby union team

Eddie Jones believes England can exploit the pressure facing grand slam-chasing France next weekend, insisting his side have already found the winning formula against Les Bleus. England are out of contention for the Six Nations title after the spirited defeat by Ireland but Jones believes a final trip to Paris before next year’s World Cup will be a key “dress rehearsal” for his side.

England go into the final weekend out of the title race for the second year in a row but need to finish on a high to avoid another fifth-place finish.

Victory for France, meanwhile, would seal a first title since 2010, when they also won the grand slam, but Ireland can still end up as champions if Jones’s side do them a favour.

The England head coach has selection headaches with Charlie Ewels facing a ban after his second-minute red card, Tom Curry set to miss out with a hamstring injury and Kyle Sinckler having to go through the return to play protocols after a head injury. Jones does not believe Manu Tuilagi will be ready to return and he was unsure if Sam Underhill will be fully fit to replace Curry – though he may be called upon regardless.

France cemented their place in the top spot in Wales last Friday and, though the pressure will be on Jones’s side to avoid a third defeat of this year’s competition, he pointed to the two previous encounters between the two teams, both narrowly won by England at Twickenham. “We just want to play well, we want to take it to them,” Jones said. “We beat them in our last two games, so we’ve got a pretty good track record against them.

“For them to be playing for the grand slam, I remember going there in 2016 going for the grand slam and because it’s such a huge thing in European rugby, it does become something in their head, and the only way we can make that live in their head a bit more is to play with such an intensity, and such ferociousness that we put them on the back foot. I think we’ve seen it in a few games.

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“France are a good team, don’t get me wrong, [but] on your day if you can get stuck into them physically, take away their strengths, you can cause them problems.”

England trained on Sunday, just a day after their defeat by Ireland, and Jones explained that they would travel to Paris early with his mind already turning to next year’s World Cup. He added: “Well we are going to France on Tuesday. We’ve always looked at this as an opportunity to start dress rehearsing for the World Cup. We will give the players experience of preparing for a week in France which is important for us, going forward.”

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