EDDIE JONES defended England’s discipline problems after a fracas erupted between Ben Te’o and Mike Brown at their World Cup training camp.
Both Te’o and Brown were kicked out of the squad after their tussle in Treviso, Italy — and will play no part against Wales today.
The ugly altercation is understood to have taken place at the gruelling heat camp last week.
Boss Jones tried to avoid getting dragged into the bust-up that has rocked preparations for Japan 2019.
It is not the first time centre Te’o has been caught up in an off-field incident — No 8 Billy Vunipola joined him for a late-night drinking session at the end of the Six Nations.
When asked about discipline issues as news of the fight surfaced during a chaotic press conference yesterday, Jones said: “I am really happy with the way the team is going — couldn’t be happier. I have not had to deal with anything.
“I don’t have anything to say on it. I never comment on why players are not selected. I am not about to start now.
“I respect your questions but I do not have anything to say on selection.”
Defiant Jones will go to any length to protect his players.
Brown is less likely to be in his official 31-man World Cup squad tomorrow but Te’o is a player Jones is desperate to take to the Far East.
Asked if the clubless 32-year-old was at risk following the incident, Jones added: “As far as I know, unless you can tell me something else.
“We talk to the players every day. You are looking to see how they act, how they respond, how much they want to play for England, how they can change from being a good club player to an international player.
“We select 31 on Monday but the game is only one of a number of selection days they have had.
“Players are not going to be selected or not on one game.”
Jones can't remember his England team
By Jonny Fordham
ENGLAND made three late changes to face Wales today even though boss Eddie Jones could not remember who he had picked! Giant winger Joe Cokanasiga comes in for Ruaridh McConnochie, who has a hip injury.
Jonathan Joseph replaces Henry Slade (knee) in the centres and Tom Curry is shifted to No 7 as uncapped Lewis Ludlam takes the place of Sam Underhill (toe).
Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi have been called up to the bench for this World Cup warm-up.
But in a bizarre press conference yesterday, an RFU suit had to announce the changes on behalf of head coach Jones, who had forgotten his team.
Asked about who was playing, Jones said: “Er, yeah, no what do you want me to do? We’ve made a few changes to the squad, I can’t remember them all.”
England fans will be praying their heroes are better at remembering who is playing when they step out at Twickenham.
But Jones was far from rumbled over the late disruption to his side.
He added: “It is all part of a World Cup campaign adapting, adjusting, bringing people in and out, finding your role.
“It is a most fascinating time. Some of them picked up a few knocks in training but we want players to understand it is a squad of 23. They have a role starting or finishing, or supporting the squad.
“It is all part of the build-up to the World Cup. When we get on the plane on September 8, we want to be ready to go.
“I have had four World Cups so I think I know how to prepare the team.”
ENGLAND: Daly, Cokanasiga, Joseph, Francis, Watson, Ford, Heinz, Genge, Cowan-Dickie, Cole, Launchbury, Ewels, Ludlam, Curry, B Vunipola.
At least Jones and his old sparring partner, Wales coach Warren Gatland, avoided brawling too well, for now anyway.
The rivals went for dinner on Friday with their backroom staff as they toasted the countdown to the World Cup — six months after their last meal before the Six Nations.
Jones said: “It was a nice curry.
The curry was probably better than the last one we had. We talked about rugby but nothing about the match that comes to mind.”
England have been flogging tickets to the Anglo-Welsh dust-up using the slogan ‘This is no warm-up’ to get punters through the turnstiles.
And while Jones is desperate to avoid another disaster after the latest off-field issues, he did stress that having momentum so far ahead of their first Pool C group game on September 22 counted for nothing.
He added: “It does not apply in the warm-ups.
“It is zero. It starts when you get to the World Cup. Imagine having momentum now. The World Cup is six or seven weeks away.
“No team in the world keeps momentum for that period of time.
When do you want momentum? When you get to the World Cup.”