Owen Farrell will lead England against the Springboks on Saturday. Photo: Adam Holt/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – England coach Eddie Jones has warned his side to prepare for an aggressive environment when they take on South Africa in the first Test at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Jones’ side play a three-Test series with South Africa, starting in Johannesburg on Saturday and he has told England to prepare for an intense atmosphere.

“Ellis Park is the spiritual homeland of South Africa rugby and it is probably the most aggressive environment I’ve encountered as a coach,” said Jones.

“You can feel the passion and pride of the crowd so we know we have to raise our game early on, then be enormously accurate in how we play.”

Jones says Saracens star Owen Farrell has led the side well all week and believes Nick Isiekwe, Tom Curry and Henry Slade deserve their selection on Saturday.

“Owen Farrell has settled into his new role well with the senior players supporting him,” said Jones. “There is a good feeling in the camp and we want to do something special on this tour.

Read: England make multiple changes for Springbok Test

“With Joe Launchbury unavailable for selection, Nick Isiekwe deserves his opportunity. He is a young guy we’ve invested in on the Argentina tour. He’s come back and played superbly for Saracens and we feel he’s ready to start.”

He added: “Tom Curry is always a player we’ve had earmarked for that position. He is a young guy who made his debut in Argentina. He has been injured since then and this is great reward for his perseverance in getting over his injury.

“Henry Slade is a good, strong ball carrier, he has good hands, is an excellent kicker and certainly when you play South Africa in Johannesburg the kicking game is very important.”

There is also a place as a finisher for forward Brad Shields, and Jones believes his adaptability could be important at the weekend.

“He gives us great versatility in that he can cover second row and back row,” said Jones. “He is a committed ball carrier, has good clean out skills and a good defender.”  

African News Agency (ANA)


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