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25th Jan 2024

England’s Steve Borthwick gives incredible description of new coach, Felix Jones

Patrick McCarry

“That ability, to do that, is superb.”

Felix Jones, fresh off helping South Africa to back-to-back World Cup wins, is settling in as England’s defence coach, ahead of the 2024 Six Nations.

The 36-year-old was highly sought-after, following his four-year stint with the Springboks. Steve Borthwick was able to recruit Jones and Kiwi coach Andrew Strawbridge as he tries to lift his England side from Six Nations also-rans [the past three campaigns] to genuine title contenders.

At Monday’s Six Nations launch, Borthwick was asked for his impressions of the former Munster and Ireland fullback. What followed was a three-minute declaration of coaching love, and appreciation: “He’s one of the most intense people I have ever met, and if I can tell you that, it’s saying something!”

“Meeting with him, being on the phone with him, having a conversation with him for an hour, and not getting a word in because he has so much rugby knowledge, it is unreal. And a work ethic that is astounding.

“And I have seen people who have worked very hard. This guy, I don’t know whether he sleeps. Because the amount of material that he works through, the amount he sends me, what he talks about. So he has the work ethic.”

“He has the knowledge, understanding of areas of the game. We were sat the other day looking at some stuff on his laptop, where he was picking apart an area of the game, picking it apart, an area of contact, and showing things that I don’t think I’ve ever heard any other coach discuss. So, I think he has an incredible work ethic and that knowledge is groundbreaking that he has.”

Felix Jones (left) and Steve Borthwick. (Credit: Getty & INPHO)

Steve Borthwick on Felix Jones presentation

Warming to the topic of what Felix Jones has, so far, brought to the England coaching set-up, Steve Borthwick touched on a recent presentation the Dubliner delivered that had the squad “transfixed”. He commented:

“When Felix presented to the players last week, the room has that deathly silence. When a coach is presenting up front, I usually come down the sides just to be able to scan across the players.

“Hardly blinking, and transfixed by what he is saying. That ability to do that is superb. So work ethic, incredible knowledge and grasp of concepts and he has the players’ attention.”

Borthwick led England to a third place finish in the World Cup, having pushed eventual champions South Africa to the brink in a razor’s edge semi-final. He wants to build on that in the upcoming Six Nations.

“The team is really well aware that we haven’t performed in the Six Nations for a period of time,” he said. “Ireland and France have been the dominant teams and everybody is trying to compete with those two sides.

“What’s happened in the past is that lots is talked about England prior to the tournament, but England haven’t then achieved.”

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