England coach Eddie Jones has issued a bizarre warning to his former side – urging Japan to go and pray before their upcoming rugby Test.
Any doubts concerning Jones’ future have vanished after victory against South Africa was followed by Saturday’s 16-15 defeat to New Zealand, nudging the team back on course after a torrid first half of the year.
Next up at Twickenham are Japan, who Jones coached to the greatest upset in rugby history when South Africa were stunned 34-32 in a match that is to be made into a film called ‘The Brighton Miracle’.
Brave Blossoms captain Michael Leitch said recently “we’ve been bullied a lot by Eddie and would like to give it back by beating England as a sign of gratitude”, and Jones has responded by issuing an ominous warning.
“Pray, pray, pray. Go to the temple and pray. Just pray, it’s the best thing. We’re going to be absolutely ruthless,” Jones said.
“If I was Japan I’d be worried. I wish we were playing tomorrow. We want to smash them, physically smash them.
“I know they’re going to come full of confidence. I’ve heard some of the things they’ve said, they’ve been a bit cheeky so look out.”
Jones intends to name his strongest available side for the third Quilter International, although he must check the availability of several injured players.
Manu Tuilagi is unlikely to be risked as he continues his comeback from serious knee, chest, groin and hamstring injuries, while Dylan Hartley is nursing a thumb problem and George Kruis has a calf injury.
Asked how England would prepare for Japan, Jones said: “Sushi and sake! It’s not logical (to rest players). That’s illogical. How am I going to train them? I’ve got three days to train them.
“It’s a good test for us to see how cohesive we can get in a short period of time, which mimics the World Cup.
“Japan are the highest kicking team in the world, they’ve got a really good defence system and they’ve got some good young players coming through.
“We’re taking it seriously and that’s why we have to be absolutely ruthless about the game.
“If you want to come out and watch a Barbarians game, don’t come out, stay home. Watch Arsenal play Chelsea or whoever’s playing.”
Jones will ensure his players are fully focused on facing one of the sport’s minnows immediately after experiencing the highs of clashing with two of its heavyweights.
“If I’m fired up, how are they not going to be fired up? If they’re not fired up, they won’t be there,” Jones added.