Eddie Jones has defended his coaching methods and the high turnover of backstage staff in response to criticism of his England diet.
A newspaper article published last week used anonymous testimonials from players and former employees to paint a picture of a tense and demanding environment that lacks fun.
Jones has just completed rebuilding his coaching staff for the third time with John Mitchell his number two, the most recent departure after the former All Blacks boss left for Wasps rather than continuing to oversee the defense.
Mitchell’s exit is the latest example of the staff turnover that has persisted since Jones took over in late 2015 with assistant coaches, physios, doctors, analysts and psychologists leaving at an alarming rate.
And while England crashed out to their worst Six Nations performance earlier this year by finishing fifth, their head coach remains defiant about his managerial style.
“These things happen. Everyone has an opinion on how you operate. I can’t say it’s right or wrong, I try to be a reasonable person,” Jones told BT Sport.
“I coached for a good period of time and there were probably times when I wasn’t as nice as I would have liked to be. But I strive to be fair all the time and I can’t wait to see where this team goes.
“The only thing you can do is respond and the only way we will respond is to play good rugby, so that’s what we intend to do.”
‘Brutal’ was one of the words used to describe the way Jones treats his staff, but the 61-year-old said: ‘I think the fact that I was a coach during that time would indicate that it’s not is not the truth.
“Has there been a high turnover of staff? There has been turnover in some areas where we have sought to renew staff.
“This is my sixth year in this role and you would expect that from your support staff. I think we have very good staff here and we appreciate their hard work.
Jones bristled when asked if he considered himself “old school”.
” No I will not. At all. And I don’t even know what that means. Some of the best old school coaches are the best coaches,” Jones said.
England picked an inexperienced squad missing several of their old guards such as Billy and Mako Vunipola and George Ford as Jones looks to field a new squad in the Autumn Nations Series.
Marcus Smith is seen as the player to chart a new direction and for the first time Jones has confirmed the 22-year-old will start at fly-half, with captain Owen Farrell set up at inside centre.
The victim of Smith’s unstoppable rise is Ford, who has been magnificent for Leicester but has no role to play against Tonga, Australia and South Africa over the next few weeks.
“We know George is a good player and we asked him to look at a few things in his game to make it better,” Jones said.
“He does and plays behind a dominant attacking pack at Leicester. He plays well. But we are keen to give Marcus and Owen the opportunity to play at 10 and 12 to see where they can go and take our game.
“I think we need to get a lot more aggressive at the start of receiving the ball and we’re keen to see what Marcus and Owen can do together.”
Despite the influence of Smith and Farrell, however, it is another player who is first on Jones’ team roster.
“Someone who has done remarkably well for England is Tom Curry. Look at the way his game has been developed,” Jones said.
“He came into the squad on the last Lions tour in 2017 and since then he’s played six, seven and eight for us. I can really see his game moving to another level.
“He came in as a very strong defensive player, but I think he can really step up his attacking game now, like (former New Zealand captain) Richie McCaw did. There’s no limit to where his game can go.
Winger Louis Lynagh has been recalled to the England squad for the fall, but scrum-half Harry Randall has a hip injury and Alex Mitchell is taking his place.