Eddie Jones says England players in 'best condition' he's ever seen them

Duncan Bech 17:27 26/10/2018
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(L to R) Nathan Earle, Ben Youngs, Chris Ashton and Henry Slade at England training

England underwent speed training overseen by a sprint specialist who has worked with Arsenal as their Portugal camp began in earnest on Friday morning.

It was the first time Jonas Dodoo, who also includes Danny Cipriani and Anthony Watson among his clients, has worked with Eddie Jones‘ men after being flown in from London to join the 36-man squad in the Algarve.

The backs were put through a succession of drills including knee-high runs holding batons above their heads and running against resistance bands.

Australian defence mastermind Jason Ryles was also present at a rainy first session of the week as England stepped up preparations for their series opener against South Africa on November 3.

Ryles, an assistant coach with Rugby league club Melbourne Storm, has been used on an intermittent basis by Jones to provide assistance ahead of major campaigns.

All 36 members of England’s squad were able to take part in a sodden session having arrived in Portugal on Wednesday, finally giving Jones some good news after the dreadful succession of injuries that has hampered the build-up to a crucial series of Quilter Internationals.

Watson, Billy and Mako Vunipola and Chris Robshaw are among the players missing for the Tests against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia, but Jones has at least welcomed back Manu Tuilagi and Ben Te’o from the treatment room.

England’s head coach insists his team selection for the opener against the Springboks will take shape after Friday’s training session.

“We’ll have a reasonable idea then. It’s exciting – very exciting. We’ve lost 320 caps but we’re still going to put together a really good team,” Jones said.

“We’ve got a number of players coming back who I haven’t seen for a long time like Te’o and Manu. They bring a different dimension to the team.

“And at this stage of the year our players are in the best condition I’ve seen them in over the three years.

“I’ve never seen them looking leaner, with better body composition. Mentally they’re in a really good spot.

“I think a World Cup sharpens their focus and not having been on a Lions tour allows them the necessary rest and recovery.

“And I think the clubs are doing a great job of looking after them. So it’s a combination of those factors that has left our players in a good spot.”

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