ddie Jones believes his new England side were able to defeat South Africa in their last game of the year on Saturday due to squad chemistry, and predicts “huge” competition for Six Nations selection .
England scored three tries – against that of the world champions – but conceded 18 penalties, meaning they demanded a late penalty from Marcus Smith to secure victory in a Twickenham classic.
Jones admits he can’t explain his squad’s immediate chemistry, which is a mix of youth and experience, but he insists it got them to victory. The coach distributed 23 new caps this 2021, including 16 in two Tests in the summer during the Lions tour.
This fall he mixed old and new goalkeepers to form a squad he hopes will take England to the 2023 World Cup in France.
“We got these young guys together this summer and you don’t really know,” said Jones, when asked about their development this year. “We do the same things that we always do, we encouraged them to work together, we encouraged them to train hard. For some reason there was this chemistry in this group, and it just took off.
“Then you have the interesting situation where you put them back with a few of the established players and again you don’t really know what’s going to happen. But they seem to have gelled really well, they have a good feeling with them.
“And when you have that nice feeling, they tend to fight a little harder, they dig a little deeper. Because the tank is never empty. Sometimes you think it’s empty. They were able to find a lot of extra gasoline in the tank on Saturday, and we don’t know much of why. “
Jones admits some of the youngsters are developing faster than he expected, which will lead to selection issues in the Six Nations.
“We added depth, we added to the competition and we also added to the hunger of the team, which is really important,” he said. “Because with some of the young players developing faster than we maybe thought they were going to develop, it puts enormous competitive pressure on the selection, which is a good position to be.”
When asked what England need to add to their squad, Jones pointed to their work on breaking and set pieces, where he believes they “aren’t strong enough to beat a team like South Africa consistently “.
“We seem to have a really good mix right now, and we have to figure out what to put in next, hydrochloric acid or a little sodium,” he said. “We don’t know what we need next to keep burning.”