England coach Eddie Jones delivers defiant response to future speculation

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Eddie Jones has delivered a defiant response to the speculation over his future generated by England’s series defeat in South Africa.

Free State Stadium was the setting for a fifth-successive loss that has turned Saturday’s climax to the tour in Cape Town into a dead rubber with the revitalised Springboks already out of sight.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has given Jones its backing amid scrutiny over his position, but the Australian is under intense pressure to reverse an alarming slump that began in the recent NatWest 6 Nations.

“I chat to (RFU chief executive) Steve Brown regularly. I don’t ask for his full support,” Jones said.

“I do my job and that’s focusing on coaching the team as well as I can. I’m not involved in those decisions so I’m not worried about it.

“I love the team. I love coaching the team. I’m excited about where we’re going to go.

“I realise this is a tough time and that our fans and supporters will be disappointed, but all I can assure you is we’re doing everything we can, every minute of the day, to turn this team around.

“The morale’s been very good. We’re disappointed but it’s been very good. We’re focusing on winning in Cape Town and putting in our best performance of the tour.”

England’s hopes of salvaging pride at Newlands have been hit by the loss of the Vunipola brothers.

In a yet another savage blow in a 15-month period decimated by injury, Billy has returned home after re-fracturing the arm broken at the start of the year in the first half of Saturday’s 23-12 defeat in Bloemfontein.

Billy was making an impression on South Africa until the recurrence of the problem that forced him out for fourth months and he now faces another extended spell on the sidelines.

Mako, the loosehead prop, has returned home to attend the birth of his first child and has been replaced in the squad by Alec Hepburn.

“We know that Billy has a fracture and will be further investigated back home. I’ve got great confidence he’ll come back,” Jones said.

“As we saw, his second game was immeasurably better than his first game. The disappointing thing is that he’s injured again but he’s a young guy and a driven player.

“He’s very important for us and I’ve no doubt he’s got the desire and attitude to get back as quickly as he can.

“Mako’s gone home for family reasons, which we agreed at the start of the tour. He’s having a child so is going home for that.”

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