Jones says England 'absolutely flying' for Argentina

Tokyo (AFP) –


England are "absolutely flying" on the eve of their crunch Pool C Rugby World Cup match against Argentina, coach Eddie Jones said Friday, vowing to take the Pumas on at their own physical game.

"We're physically in the best condition we've ever been in. We're absolutely flying this morning," said Jones, in characteristically bullish fashion.

An England win will see them first to qualify for the quarter-finals at this year's World Cup and Jones said he expected the game to be won in the forwards.

"You play against Argentina, they base their game on the scrum... so you've got to take them on up front, which is the scrum, maul, the ruck attack and ruck defence. That's where it's going to be won," Jones told reporters at Tokyo Stadium.

He called on his team to match Argentina's "pride and passion" but also to play "smart" and keep their discipline.

Jones said the players were well-trained for the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the match but admitted it was always hard to know how they would react.

"Like everything, it's a bit like a tea bag, you don't know how good it is until you put it in the hot water," he joked.

After losing their opener to France in a nail-biting contest, Argentina need to win on Saturday to keep hopes of qualifying from the 'group of death' in their own hands.

Jones said he thought the Pumas had been unlucky to lose 23-21 with Les Bleus kicking a late drop goal through Camille Lopez and then fluffing a last-gasp penalty shot of their own.

Argentina have been "pretty impressive" so far, Jones said.

"They should have won against France. All the stats showed they should have won and they had a good bonus-point win against Tonga and they are not the easiest opponent either," added the coach.

Asked if he had a message for the referees taking charge of high-stakes games, Jones retorted: "No, this World Cup, you're not allowed to meet the referees."

"It's a World Rugby regulation and we follow every World Cup regulation to the letter -- hence my presence today!" joked the coach, drawing laughter from the travelling press pack.

He quipped that the first time the team would see the referee would be just before the match and that he would have "Prince Harry's bodyguards with him".

"We can't get to him so we'll just smile and say hello," said Jones.

Refereeing has been a major talking point at this year's World Cup -- especially around the issue of head-high tackles.

"I think the refereeing has been as good as we could have hoped and that's all we can expect," he said.