Eddie Jones has revealed Jonny Bairstow has given his England side a pep talk before their autumn campaign begins against Argentina on Sunday. The cricketer had the players “enthralled” for an hour this week, detailing the highs and lows of a season when he was named Test player of the year before suffering a broken leg while playing golf.
Jones has regularly brought motivational speakers into camp and is a keen cricketer. The England head coach is eager to ensure his players enjoy their down time, saying that while the opportunities for recreational pursuits were obvious on the summer tour of Australia, he has had to get more creative in Bagshot.
“He was fantastic,” said Jones. “A big rugby fan, a No 10. He had the boys enthralled for an hour. He’s a great guy, loves his sport, he’s a dedicated sportsman, he loved watching training.
“Rugby has gone through quite a tough time and we’ve got some players here who are still securing clubs for next season.
“We’ve got all these bits and pieces going on behind the scenes so we’re trying to get the right balance between hard work and players enjoying the experience of being in the national team.
“It’s a bit different because the conditions here don’t allow for players to go out and enjoy themselves and do good, recreational activity. If they’re not training we want them to either be resting or doing something that is going to add to their capacity to play well.”
The England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie said he was no cricket fan but felt the insight provided by Bairstow was invaluable. “[It’s] a team sport but quite individual if you understand, they are out on the wicket by themselves,” he said. “Just his mindset going out there. The way he overcomes stuff.
“It was just a good insight, to see that not everything is highs. He has got quite a few lows. The injury he has got now is the first big one. It was good insight.”
Jones is expecting Argentina to use the fact that his old sparring partner and Pumas head coach, Michael Cheika, has been absent for large spells as motivation. Cheika has been coaching Lebanon at the Rugby League World Cup and was in Huddersfield on Friday night for his side’s quarter-final defeat by Australia before swiftly heading down to south-west London.
“They’ll be well organised and I reckon they’ll try to use it to their advantage,” Jones said. “Underprivileged, we don’t have a head coach. That’ll be motivation for them so he’ll use that. He’s very street smart.”