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England have been challenged by Eddie Jones not to burst out of the gates against Tonga next weekend but to time their run in the Rugby World Cup like a thoroughbred horse racing for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The head coach will select his side for the opening match against Tonga at the end of the week, having suggested last year that he will go as full strength as possible in an effort to send out a statement against the Pacific Islanders.
But on Saturday the Australian suggested that may not be his ploy when it comes to naming the team on Friday, having taken inspiration from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola to try and build England’s campaign up from start to finish in order to time their run to World Cup glory.
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“The World Cup is not about [making an early statement],” Jones said. “The World Cup is like the Cheltenham Gold Cup. You have to be in front at the right time and we intend to be in front when the whips are cracking.
“It’s exacerbated by the fact that the game has become physically more rigorous and the issues involved with the game means that players will likely be ruled out of games. We have gone to another level in terms of adaptability.
“You never have your best team any more. I was reading a book the other day about Pep’s first year at Bayern Munich. They played 60-odd games and for one week he had his full squad available. That’s the r
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