Rugby World Cup final: England’s Eddie Jones responds to Warren Gatland remark

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones said Jonny May was recovering well from a dead leg

England head coach Eddie Jones has responded to Wales counterpart Warren Gatland suggesting they had already played their “World Cup final” in the win over New Zealand.

Gatland was speaking after his side lost 19-16 to South Africa, a day after England beat the All Blacks 19-7 in the tournament’s first semi-final.

“You just send my best wishes to Warren to make sure he enjoys the third and fourth place play-off,” said Jones in a tongue-in-cheek comment at England’s news conference.

At the weekend, Gatland had added: “We have seen in previous World Cups that teams sometimes play their final in semi-finals and don’t always turn up for a final.

“So it will be interesting to see how England are next week and it could be a good game.”

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‘Farrell will be fine’

Meanwhile, Jones said Leicester wing Jonny May was recovering well from the dead leg he suffered in the 45th minute during Saturday’s victory and would be fit to face South Africa at the weekend.

“We had a walk through this [Monday] morning and we had to tell Jonny to slow down a bit,” the England coach said.

But May is in “immeasurably better” condition than when he was recovering from a hamstring problem at the same stage last week, Jones said.

Fly-half Owen Farrell also picked up a dead leg in the first-half against New Zealand, leaving George Ford to take over the kicking duties.

Jones added: “Owen’s a bit sore but he’ll be fine. We’ve got a few others carrying bumps and bruises because it was a tough old game.”

‘Great opportunity’ for Spencer

Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer is due to join up with the England squad on Monday as replacement for Willi Heinz, who suffered a hamstring injury against New Zealand.

“It is tough for Willi. He’s been a great contributor and a very well liked member of the squad and was in tears in the dressing room,” said Jones.

“He has collected himself and knows he has another role to do for us and will fulfil it well this week.”

Spencer, 27, has won three England caps and is set to be named on the bench for Saturday’s final.

“Ben has been in and around the squad for the last couple of years and knows the game and knows the players and is a fit guy and fits in quickly,” added Jones. “We said to the guys outside the 31 that they need to be ready to go.

“It is a great opportunity ahead of him and he has to learn a few new things and Willi and Ben [Youngs] will help him with that.

“The task in hand is no different from any other player and he has to learn a bit more and get himself physically and mentally ready.”

There will be a Rugby Union Weekly Podcast every day this week building up to the final – download from BBC Sounds.

Exclusive radio commentary of the World Cup Final on Saturday begins at 06:00 GMT live from Tokyo on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds.