Eddie Jones believes England’s lack of success since claiming the 2003 World Cup is a result of successive regimes allowing the team to develop a soft underbelly.
Until Jones masterminded a first grand slam in 13 years, the Red Rose had managed to win just a solitary Six Nations title since Martin Johnson raised the Webb Ellis Cup in Sydney.
The Australian’s priority after succeeding Stuart Lancaster in December has been to restore the snarl to the team which he reckons was lost amid players’ pursuit of commercial interests.
When asked if the team had become soft since 2003, Jones said: “Without a doubt. I came up against them as Wallabies coach in 2004 and they came out for a holiday. We put 50 points on them in Brisbane.
“You cannot accept that – as soon as it was accepted, it was the end of that team and era. In reality, England rugby has never recovered since.
“Commercial activity took over for England’s players after that World Cup success. And significant senior players retired at the same time.”
England play three Tests against World Cup runners-up Australia next month in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and Jones believes the tour will expose players who lack the commitment he demands.
“The tour will be hard – we’ve got three difficult Tests there and we know that Australia have picked a strong squad,” Jones said.
“It will be all hands to the deck and we will separate the men from the boys. It’s not about players having a nasty edge, but being desperate to play for England. That’s what I want.
“Owen Farrell would be top of the tree and he is from Wigan. It’s all about how desperate you are and George Ford is the same.
“They are kids who desperately want to play for England and get better. They are the players we want.
“There is no doubt that players have had it too easy and been handed caps.”