Home Rugby England’s Eddie Jones consults Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, others in ‘fantastic group’

England’s Eddie Jones consults Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, others in ‘fantastic group’

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England’s Eddie Jones will look to emulate Premier League leaders Arsenal’s quick start to matches during the autumn internationals having exchanged ideas with coach Mikel Arteta as part of a coaching group which includes figures from the NFL and NBA.

The group — which meets over Zoom — also includes Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, NBA Hall of Famer George Karl and Mike Dunlap, who is assistant coach at the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jones’ England will face Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa in November and could turn to his coaching brains trust for inspiration ahead of the quartet of Tests. Jones has turned to football in the past, having brought in the likes of Antonio Conte and Gareth Southgate to England training. Arteta visited England rugby training last autumn and the two have kept in touch, with Jones praising Arteta as a “brilliant young guy.”

“We have this fantastic group,” Jones said. “[Arteta] came into the camp last autumn and we had a really good chat. He’s a super bright young coach. Then, because of Covid, you have these Zoom conferences now. So I’ve got an Australian coaching conference Zoom, a world coaching Zoom and this group.

“It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous — we all go in and share our problems and everyone tells you what they think. It’s fantastic.

“We’ve got Mikel, Matt LaFleur the Green Bay Packers head coach, George Karl who’s an NBA hall of famer, Mike Dunlap who was Michael Jordan’s head coach when he bought the Hornets.

“We’ve got all these guys in the same room. It’ll be fantastic when we all get together over a beer. It’ll be so much fun.

“We just share stories and each other’s problems and try and come up with ideas of how we can take coaching forward. [Arteta] is a brilliant young guy.”

Jones has kept a close eye on Arsenal’s superb form and when asked what has impressed him this season, he answered: “How fast they get out of the blocks. Every game they’re at it. They play with energy, they know how they want to play, they put the opposition on the back foot.

“In rugby — and we’ve been good at it at times and not so good at other times — 75% of Test matches are won by the team who score the first try. I don’t know what the percentage would be in the Premier League for teams who score the first try but I’d imagine it would be high.”

Jones also watched the Amazon documentary “All or Nothing: Arsenal” and was impressed by how Arteta communicates with his squad. “[Arteta’s got] Really good energy,” Jones said. “He understands how young players communicate. He showed them the duck and the rabbit…it’s an old picture but it reinforces how important imagery is for young people to learn. Really good.”

Arteta talked about the importance of sharing experiences with other coaches on BT Sport podcast “Michael Calvin’s Football People” earlier this month.

“I am part of a group where you have other managers from many other sports,” Arteta said. “In this group, we share experiences and ask for other managers’ opinion on previous experiences we’ve had.

“You want to be judged on your decision-making, on how would you act differently in past scenarios. And that’s been incredibly valuable for me, because there is not a competition there, but they can get strong insights into the situation because they have lived those situations in a very similar way.

“One of the names can be Eddie Jones, who I’m building a very good relationship with. And it’s been really helpful and it’s someone that I admire so much.”

While Jones was full of praise for Arteta, the England coach feels one of his own players doesn’t get enough credit.

Owen Farrell sits on 97 England caps and should pass the hundred mark in November. While it looks likely Courtney Lawes will captain the team into the series, Farrell — who has skippered England in the past — is integral to the team and Jones feels he doesn’t get enough praise.

“You know Owen is the third highest points scorer in rugby history? He’s one of the all-time greats of the game,” Jones said. “He’s won every trophy in the world apart from the Rugby World Cup and he’s got a silver medal which isn’t bad.

“Sometimes I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. He’s resurrecting his club team now [Saracens] — they’re back up playing fantastic rugby. We hope we get that Owen in with all that fighting spirit for November.”

The discussion of Farrell came about after Jones was talking about referees and the importance of communication. Jones was talking about how much emphasis he places on “social reciprocity” when it comes to interactions with officials.

“We need to have one of our leaders establish a good relationship with him,” Jones said. “We want the referee to have a good game so then we’re going to have a good game of rugby. We all want a good game of rugby. That’s important and we can’t have players yelling and screaming at the referee.”

When asked whether Lawes was ahead of Farrell in what Jones wants to see from his players when communicating with referees, Jones answered: “It’s not someone ahead of the other — it’s not a race. It’s the balance of the team.

“If we don’t have an Owen then we lose a huge percentage of our fight. He is the most energetic and one of the most committed rugby players I’ve ever seen. We need that. But we also need someone who is also composed and speaks to the referee well. We need both.”

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