Eddie Jones has rejected criticism of his replacement policy for England’s forwards from World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward after Dylan Hartley again did not finish the game in the defeat to Scotland.
England’s hopes of a third successive Six Nations title were dealt a blow last weekend with a 25-13 loss in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield.
Captain Hartley was withdrawn after 55 minutes in keeping with Jones’ policy of rotating his forwards in the second half, much to the dismay of Woodward.
Woodward, whose England side defeated Jones’ Australia in the 2003 World Cup final, said his “heart sank” when he saw Hartley being withdrawn at a time when leadership was needed.
He added: “Can you imagine Lawrence Dallaglio or Martin Johnson going off at Murrayfield with 25 minutes to go when their team are in dire trouble?”
Jones, though, defended his rotation policy, saying: “The game has changed in terms of intensity. It’s very hard for front-row forwards to play 80 minutes.
“I’ve seen Mako Vunipola go 77 minutes and he comes off as a physical wreck. It takes half a week to recuperate, without any exaggeration.
“So most front-row players around the world go 60 minutes, because of the amount of work they have to do is three times what they had to do 10 years ago.
“Speak to Woodward about his opinion. We have set up the team so that the captaincy is movable.”
Hartley is expected to retain the captaincy for Saturday’s meeting with France, Jones praising the hooker’s ability to rally the team after only the second defeat of the Australian’s tenure.
“You need strong people. You need people to come in that aren’t kicking stones,” he added.
“You don’t need people who are feeling sorry for themselves, you need people to come in and want to set an example of how we will go forward – and he has done that.”
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