England coach Eddie Jones has attacked the British media for the “rat poison” written when criticising Elliot Daly, while at the same time accepting the player’s form had not been up to par at the start of the Six Nations.
Jones dropped regular fullback Daly to the bench for the first time since his arrival last week but, in the injury-absence of Henry Slade, recalled him on Thursday for Saturday’s final Six Nations trip to Ireland, but at outside centre.
“His form wasn’t very good at the start of the tournament, was it?,” Jones told reporters. “We had a number of players like that, he wasn’t the only one. All those players have had to dig deep and find themselves, as the team has.”
Asked immediately after that if Daly’s confidence had been knocked, Jones launched an extraordinary assault on the UK media, where criticism of Daly and others had been widespread after the defeats by Scotland and Wales and a flat autumn series.
“I don’t think there is any such thing as confidence, you either think rightly or you think wrongly and the wrong time is when you start to listen to the poison that’s written in the media, that rat poison gets into players’ heads,” Jones said.
“We try to spray all that rat poison that you try to put in and get it out of their head, so we are always working hard to keep it out of their heads. It keeps me busy mate.”
Jones said he had not had to spend much time on the issue with Daly, one of the classiest players in his squad and a regular centre in the club game.
“Elliot is an experienced player, he’s got 50 caps, he can work it out for himself and he has,” he said.
“We’re really pleased that he is coming back to his best form and we know at his best he is a world-class player and we are anticipating that on Saturday.”