WHEN the England coach comes to your house and says you are not in the mix, there is no bigger motivation. Suddenly, every moment is about getting back in the squad for the Six Nations.
- I know how tough it will be to add to my 75 caps, though . . . . like trying to get back on to a bullet train going faster and faster.
- It’s a huge challenge to get into the squad. And, you can be out of it pretty quickly, too — as I found out.
- England has become an ever-evolving environment. What you thought was good enough before is so far from good enough now.
The game moves on so quickly. England lost once in 2017, finished the autumn with a 3-0 whitewash but now all eyes are on the Six Nations. For someone who missed out like myself, everything will have changed since I pulled on a Red Rose shirt against Ireland in March.
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Training will be totally different, the new guys will have bonded tightly in the squad. So if I do get back in I’ll need to push myself even further. It’s the same with all of us who missed out — from Billy Vunipola to guys like Ben Te’o and Kyle Sinckler, who both went on the Lions tour with me.
One thing you can’t do is worry about what other people are doing in your position around the Premiership.
That will just send you crazy and your head will fall off.
The most important thing is to worry about what YOU can control: your own dedication, focus and performance. I can’t play one good game for Wasps and all the wrongs will be forgotten. You need to perform consistently for your club and fight off all your competition there before you look further ahead.
As I’ve found out before, there’s a hell of a lot of guys going back to their clubs knowing the hard work starts now. Having been in the England set-up since 2007, it has never been this competitive or challenging to get in and then keep your spot.
Obviously the Premiership is producing a lot of home-grown talent. But for that step up to Test level you need to fit in seamlessly and deliver the highest standards ALL THE TIME. It’s sink or swim.
Eddie Jones and his coaches make it crystal clear you can never be satisfied with just being involved. You need to fight every moment for that Test spot. My Wasps buddy Nathan Hughes says England training has got tougher. How the demands on the players were even more extreme, both physically and mentally.
Pulling up at Pennyhill Park you know you will be pushing your body to the absolute limit. You also know Eddie and his coaches will turn people he feels are the right guys into world-class players.
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- Before, we’ve seen players get a load of hype so the coach feels under pressure to pick them. They are called up — then fall flat on their face.
- Eddie is not one to be bullied into that.
- Everything is set up to turn people into world-class players or set them on the way to those dizzy heights.
- And my mission to scale that mountain once again is already well under way.
Why Jones is top boss
IT will not surprise many that Eddie Jones was named World Rugby coach of the year.
His pedigree speaks for itself with what he has achieved with England in the last two years.
So many people take coaching jobs who are not 100 per cent convinced what they will do and get swayed by external factors. But Eddie does it his way.
He gets people on board and they buy into him. If it works, it works. If not, he’s not ripping everything up and starting again. He sticks to his guns and trusts his instincts. He also has that self-awareness to keep improving — he never thinks he’s perfect or has reached the top and is always looking for an edge.
That’s the difference between the good and the great. The only time you ever stop learning or improving is when you are six feet under.