Jones has been consistent with that message, particularly when it comes to England’s attacking play. He admitted that there is a “balancing act” at play when it comes to keeping players convinced of the general direction of travel.
“That’s not difficult,” Jones said of the compromise between bleeding new faces and curbing tactics. “It’s just that sometimes the outcome is difficult. You just show what you want to show. Maybe we go to Argentina and play with just four players. And then if you lose the game, people are saying, ‘Why are you doing this? You are crazy’. But it’s because you don’t want to show anything else.
“I remember with Japan, we played Georgia in Gloucester [before the 2015 World Cup]. We played nine strikers [with back-rower Hendrik Tui on the wing], because we didn’t want to show anything. So if you were watching us that year as South Africa, you’re thinking, ‘Y—, what’s going on here? How will they play against us?’
“There’s a little bit of cloak and dagger now, 12 months from now, of how much you want to show because balance, which is your question, balance is you have to win some games and be good at games. to keep players thinking you’re on the right track.
“If you’re too tame and dagger, and you don’t have good results, players think, ‘What’s going on here?’ And it’s hard to make them believe. And if you show them too much, you are giving too much to the opposition. So it’s that balancing act right now and it’s the most fun time to train.”
An extended squad will travel to Jersey for a training camp next week. Jones is aware that England have started slowly in recent campaigns, such as the last Six Nations, which started losing to Scotland, and the Test series in Australia. He is eager to “accelerate learning” with non-contact “mimic training” to complement more physically strenuous exercise.
It’s an approach inspired by conversations with Matt LaFleur, head coach for the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League (NFL), and Mike Dunlap, assistant coach for the NBA franchise Milwaukee Bucks, as well as Australian basketball coach Brian Goorjian.
“You can’t talk, you show them what they have to do,” Jones said. “We experimented a little at the last camp. They have to do it without talking. That is [training] eye contact, being able to understand each other’s body language. It was very good, we have to test it some more. Nothing is instantaneous.”