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Eddie Jones credits Liverpool's role in Jonny May's wonder try for England

The Guardian logo The Guardian 22/11/2020 Gerard Meagher

Eddie Jones has revealed how Liverpool are having a key influence on his England team, explaining how a meeting with the Premier League champions played a role in Jonny May’s wonder try against Ireland.

Jones met with the Liverpool director of research, Ian Graham, to discuss transitional play – moving from attack to defence and vice versa – with a particular emphasis on what players do off the ball. Previously Jones has cited Pep Guardiola as having a significant impact on his team selection policy and more recently he has been reading Believe Us – a book about how Jürgen Klopp turned Liverpool into English champions – and has started collecting data on how his players perform when not in possession.

Related: 'He’s obsessed with getting better': Eddie Jones hails May's finishing ability

In the 18-7 win over Ireland, England had just 39% of the ball – making 246 tackles compared to their opponents’ 73 – but prevailed thanks to two tries from May. His second came after Ireland lost an attacking lineout before England swiftly shifted the ball from right to left to May, who finished off a memorable try from his own 22. Jones believes that was a perfect example of the “flick the switch” game scenarios he has introduced into training coming to fruition.

“I’m nominally the flick the switch coordinator but all the coaches do all the work. We’ve just created games that mimic those sorts of situations,” said Jones. “We had a great meeting with the Liverpool analyst, that’s one area they’re in. We’re starting to develop our own database that’s helping us in that area that can measure work off the ball. That’s so important, transitional parts, it’s a pretty exciting area for us and it’s pleasing to see that try where we shifted the ball quickly to the outside [for May’s second try].

“[Liverpool], and I think most football sides, are very advanced in being able to measure the movement of the players off the ball. If you look at any [rugby] stats that you get, they are only concerned with information on the ball. Say if Mako Vunipola makes 20 tackles and carries the ball three times, for 79 minutes and 45 seconds he is not with the ball. But his movement off the ball is crucial to what we do when we transition.

“What we want the players to do is what is obvious, but it’s their race to get in position which is really important. We’re starting to measure all that, we’ve got three great analysts who look at that area and give the players feedback. And then we want the players to use their skills. They are the best players in England, we want them to use their skills.” England will reach the Autumn Nations Cup final with victory over Wales on Saturday but Jones is wary of Wayne Pivac’s side, for whom he believes it will be their “one game of the year”.

He also warned that England will need to adapt to playing at Parc y Scarlets rather than the Principality Stadium, which cannot be used having been turned into a temporary hospital. “It’s their one game of the year,” he added. “They are playing at the heart and soul of Welsh rugby, in Llanelli where they had some of their greatest victories in Welsh rugby. We know they are going to be a completely different animal. It’s at a ground not a stadium so it’s open to the elements a lot more. Our preparation for that game is going to have to be absolutely world class.”

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