Eddie Jones insists Scotland will arrive at Twickenham for their Six Nations clash with England burdened by expectation.
Murrayfield victories over Ireland and Wales, combined with a narrow defeat to France, point to a Scottish revival under their Kiwi head coach Vern Cotter that faces it greatest challenge yet against the reigning champions.
England are targeting a record-equalling 18th successive victory in the Triple Crown decider on Saturday week, but Jones insists it is the visitors who are under pressure.
Nicknamed “The Fox” and the brainchild of Brendan Venter, Italy’s tactic of not contesting the breakdown caused mayhem at Twickenham. But the ploy was almost killed off 24 hours before kick-off.
Scotland’s win over Wales in the Six Nations has seen them reach fifth in the World Rugby rankings, their highest ever placing since they were brought in.
They came to Twickenham with questions being asked about their very involvement in the Six Nations — but Conor O’Shea’s Italy posed one of their own that left Eddie Jones’ England all at sea.
“Scotland are already talking it up. They’ve got belief, they’ve got confidence,” Jones said. “Confidence leads to better performances and better performances lead to high expectation.
“Now they have to carry the burden of Scotland for the next two weeks, so we’re looking forward to playing them. They are expected to win, aren’t they? They are talking about being on a roll and when you say you are on a roll you are pretty confident.
“I don’t think you’ve ever heard me say we’re on a roll. We’ve won 17 games in a row and we’re not on a roll. We want to keep the Calcutta Cup here.
“I thought Scotland were outstanding against Wales, especially the simplicity of their tries. They ran straight, they are a really good Kiwi-coached side. They contest hard at the breakdown and are then very good in transition.
“They are a really well-coached side and everything is coming together for them.”
A 36-15 victory over Italy kept England’s Grand Slam defence intact, but Jones was left seething by the Azzurri’s refusal to engage in rucks, enabling them to swarm around the white shirts from every direction.
Eddie Jones was left frustrated by Italy’s ruckless tactics at Twickenham. David Rogers – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images
“I’m sure Scotland will play proper rugby. We’re going to have a hard contest. They are going to come hard at the breakdown, it’s going to be a hard game of rugby,” Jones said.
England move to Oxford for their training camp this week as part of Jones’ plan to take the squad away from their Surrey training base on non-Test weeks.
An unexpected benefit of the lack of contest at the breakdown against Italy is that the players are fresh and relatively niggle-free.
“I’ll talk to my coaches and see what we need to do, but we’re in a pretty good place,” Jones said. “We don’t have any injuries, we don’t have any bumps or bruises because we didn’t make any tackles.
“That is amazing for us because we’ve been patching people up and now we’ve got a chance to get them really right, so we’ll be humming by Scotland.”
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