South Africa v England: Everyone knows we are struggling, admits Eddie Jones

Third Test: South Africa v England
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town Date: Saturday, 23 June Kick-off: 16:05 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website and mobile app.

Under-pressure England boss Eddie Jones says he is determined to lead the side out of a desperate run of form when they face South Africa in Saturday’s third Test in Cape Town.

Last weekend’s Bloemfontein defeat was a fifth Test loss in succession.

“Everyone knows we are struggling,” Jones admitted.

“We are going through this renewal period and it’s tough. Someone has to take the team through it and I’m taking it through.”

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Back in the city where he was head-hunted by former Rugby Football Union chief Ian Ritchie at the end of 2015, Jones revealed he left in such a rush from his post with the Stormers that some of his possessions are still at large on the Western Cape.

“I signed to coach the Stormers and then I was approached by England, which was too great an opportunity not to take,” Jones recalled.

“I’m very grateful to the Stormers organisation for releasing me. It’s a great rugby city, beautiful natural landscape, and it’s going to be a great game on Saturday.”

Despite the growing noise, the RFU says it fully supports Jones, even if his side capitulate in Cape Town on Saturday.

But while on paper the game is a dead rubber, in reality it is another significant game for England.

Victory would go a long way to repairing the damage of the past four months, and dimming the spotlight on the head coach.

“I’m not worried about that,” Jones said this week. “I’m worried about coaching the team well. That’s my job and that’s what I love doing.

“We just have to get through this period, keep developing the young players, and snatch a win on Saturday.”

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Cipriani and Robshaw return

England welcome back a handful of experienced players for the series finale, with former captain Chris Robshaw coming in on the blind-side flank for Brad Shields, who is ruled out through illness.

“Chris reacted well to the disappointment of not being selected [for the second Test] and he will give us an absolutely committed performance,” Jones said.

But while Robshaw had to wait one game to return to the starting XV, Danny Cipriani has had to wait a decade, as he wears the number 10 shirt for the first time since the autumn of 2008.

It means Owen Farrell at outside centre has a new midfield partner, after linking up with George Ford for much of the past two and a half years.

“They are different players,” Farrell said. “Danny has had a good year, so it will be good to play with him. We want Danny to be himself. We want to make sure he plays like he normally does.”

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says Cipriani’s unpredictability makes him “nervous”, while Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi is expecting to face a player who operates “outside of the box”.

Elsewhere for England, Joe Marler and Nathan Hughes come into the pack, with both Vunipola brothers already back home, while Exeter dominate the replacements bench, from where second row Jonny Hill will be hoping to make his international debut.

Boks target whitewash

Erasmus has overseen a sharp upturn in the fortunes of the Springboks, with the first two Test matches reinvigorating the rugby public in the rainbow nation.

The former Springbok flanker is also on a brief to develop the depth of his side, and has tinkered with his starting XV accordingly.

Hooker Chiliboy Ralapelle replaces the outstanding Bongi Mbonambi, while Jesse Kriel and Andre Esterhuizen form a new centre partnership, Elton Jantjies comes in for Handre Pollard at fly-half, and the brilliant Willie le Roux makes way for Warrick Gelant at full-back.

“No-one is out of the team because of a lack of form, the changes are due to our long-term planning for next year’s Rugby World Cup as we continue to build squad depth and capacity,” Erasmus explained.

“I expect a very physical and close-fought game. We are desperate to win and make it 3-0 while England will be desperate to win the game, make it 2-1 and finish their tour on a positive note.”

Team line-ups

England: E Daly (Wasps); J May (Leicester Tigers), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs), O Farrell (Saracens, capt), M Brown (Harlequins); D Cipriani (Wasps), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); J Marler (Harlequins), J George (Saracens), K Sinckler (Harlequins), J Launchbury (Wasps), M Itoje (Saracens), C Robshaw (Harlequins), T Curry (Sale Sharks), N Hughes (Wasps).

Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), A Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), H Williams (Exeter Chiefs), J Hill (Exeter Chiefs), M Wilson (Newcastle Falcons), S Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), B Spencer (Saracens), D Solomona (Sale Sharks)

South Africa: W Gelant (Bulls); S Nkosi (Sharks), J Kriel (Bulls), A Esterhuizen (Sharks), A Dyantyi (Lions); E Jantjies (Lions), F de Klerk (Sale Sharks); T Mtawarira (Sharks), C Ralepelle (Sharks), F Malherbe (Stormers), RG Snyman (Bulls), F Mostert (Lions), S Kolisi (Stormers), PS du Toit (Stormers), D Vermeulen (Unattached).

Replacements: S Brits (Unattached), S Kitshoff (Stormers), T du Toit (Sharks), JL du Preez (Sharks), S Notshe (Stormers), E Papier (Bulls), H Pollard (Bulls), W le Roux (Wasps).

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