England coach Eddie Jones has wasted little time in starting psychological warfare with the Springboks more than two months before the sides clash at Twickenham.
On Wednesday Jones‚ who was a technical advisor to the Springboks when they won the 2007 World Cup in France‚ fired some salvos to motivate his own team before the November 12 meeting‚ calling the Springboks ‘bullies’.
The Boks have not lost to England since November 2006 and a win this year would stretch that record to a decade.
But England under Jones are proving to be a tough side to beat.
Since their ignominious first round exit at last year’s World Cup on home soil under coach Stuart Lancaster‚ England have won eight Tests under Jones in 2016.
That included the 2016 Six Nations and a 3-0 series win over Jones’ country of birth‚ Australia in June.
But the wily Jones knows that the Boks are in a rebuilding phase and are under pressure after some poor results in 2016.
So he has decided to begin the media campaign against the Boks.
“We haven’t beaten them since then  and you know what they are like‚ they’re bullies‚ so that is a task for our first 23-man squad‚” Jones said on the ‘Rugby Tonight’ programme.
“We have got 36 Tests up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup so there is a purpose for every Test. We will certainly pick our strongest team for South Africa and take it from there.”
Jones is a master of media attacks on opponents‚ but he is also a tough taskmaster in search of continual improvement.
In July he spent a few days watching the Tour de France as the race went through the brutal Pyrenees Mountains.
He returned impressed by the mental toughness of the riders.
“It’s quite incredible‚” Jones told the Guardian when he returned for the Tour.
“Just the toughness of the riders and what they do. They’ve done that nine days in a row. So they’ve got recovery today‚ and they’ll ride for an hour and a half. To recover. That’s professional. We’ve done some good things in rugby‚ but there’s still a long way to go.
“Those guys go up that first slope for 45 minutes – it was tiring enough driving up there – and then they’ve got to keep going for another four and a half hours.
“That’s not physical toughness‚ that’s mental toughness and our guys exhibited that in that third Test [against Australia]‚ which was really pleasing.”
On the British TV programme Jones also demanded better fitness from his players.
The All Blacks have set the benchmark in all aspects of the game‚ most notably their fitness.
Jones knows that to match them‚ being fitter is a key component to reaching that goal.
“If we want to be the best side in the world we need to get a lot fitter‚” Jones said.
“The great thing for us is that we haven’t even touched on it yet. We have another six or seven per cent improvement at least. Individually‚ we can get each of the players better – someone like Billy [Vunipola] is just touching the surface.”
— TMG Digital