England head coach Eddie Jones has stressed that England have had two weeks of high intensity preparation ahead of their Six Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.
England travel to Edinburgh off the back of victories over Italy and Wales and at their Pennyhill Park training base their head coach made clear how productive their last two weeks have been.
“We’re playing against a Scotland side that are a very good team, we respect them greatly but they’ve got to understand that we’ve had two very good weeks of preparation,” he told Sky Sports.
“In terms of training intensity we probably had our highest session ever last Friday. We had two good scrum sessions against Georgia so we want to accelerate in the tournament now and this is the best game to do it.”
England are currently level at the top of the Six Nations table with Ireland ahead on points difference.
A trip to Paris follows before meeting Joe Schmidt’s men at Twickenham Stadium on March 17 and the Australian elaborated on why this Round 3 match is crucial.
Jones said: “It’s the next game and the third game. The third game of the tournament is always important because you either put yourself in a position to win the tournament, or you put yourself in a position not to win the tournament.”
In Round 2 Gregor Townsend’s Scotland punished France for their ill-discipline but fell someway short against Wales in the opening round. Jones reflected on both encounters following his team announcement on Thursday.
“I think that they struggled with the expectation in the first game against Wales but played very well against France.
“There were moments in the game against France when they looked absolutely outstanding,” noted England’s head coach.
“The dangerous thing about this week is that there’s probably no expectation on them to win. It makes them a very dangerous team and they’re a team that we respect greatly, so we’re going to have to be at our best.”
The sole change to England’s starting XV sees Nathan Hughes return from a knee injury to start instead of Sam Simmonds.
It was originally thought that the forward would miss the whole of the Six Nations however the 26-year-old has been declared fit and will add greatly to the encounter according to his head coach.
“He’s a go-forward player for us, he creates quick ruck ball and he dents the line. He’s got a nice sense of the game and he’s got physical presence so he’s going to be very useful at Murrayfield.”
Owen Farrell missed training sessions leading into this Calcutta Cup encounter.
However, according to Jones this was part of a ‘reconditioning programme’ and the inside centre is now ‘jumping out of his skin’ ready to play.
One key decision that faced England’s head coach was whether Jonathan Joseph or Ben Te’o would partner Farrell in the centres. In a close call, Joseph was given the nod to start.
“Really tough one [decision]. I’m really impressed with the way that Ben Te’o is going. I just feel like now he’s really starting to understand the nuances of rugby [union] and it’s a hard selection,” said the 58-year-old.
“I think that early on, the way that Scotland have traditionally attacked under Gregor, JJ’s defensive skills out wide might be very useful for us.
“He [Te’o] will come off the bench and carry through. He’s a great carrier, a strong carrier, good on his feet and also a good defender in a different sort of way.”
Dylan Hartley will lead England once again and will become the national side’s second most capped player of all time.
Hartley will surpass Jonny Wilkinson  and only Jason Leonard has made more . Prior to the milestone, the captain’s head coach praised the 31-year-old’s resilience and leadership.
“He’s done really well. He’s a tough kid, he came over here of his own accord and lived with his auntie.
“He fought his way through the academies and he’s got that little bit of, as New Zealander’s say ‘mana’ about him. He’s got that leadership, he leads from the front.
“He’s not the best player in the world but he’s a very good captain.”