Six Nations 2018: Eddie Jones wary of ‘world-class’ Finn Russell

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    Jones compares Scotland to the All Blacks
    Six Nations 2018: Scotland v England
    Venue: Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 24 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
    Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Scotland. Live text commentary and report on the BBC website and app

    Scotland fly-half Finn Russell is a “world-class” player who will have to be closely marked in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield, says England boss Eddie Jones.

    Two weeks ago Jones baited Wales’ Rhys Patchell, questioning his “bottle”.

    But the Australian has taken a different tack with Scotland kingpin Russell, who has struggled for form in the Six Nations so far.

    “We will have to defend him very closely,” Jones told BBC Sport.

    “He went on a Lions tour and did some fantastic things in the French game. He’s a world-class player.”

    Russell is reportedly set to earn £700,000 a season when he moves to Racing 92 from Glasgow at the end of the season

    Jones has also praised Scottish rugby, comparing it to the All Blacks both in terms of historical links and gameplan.

    “Scottish rugby has always been closely aligned with New Zealand rugby,” Jones explained.

    “The south island of New Zealand is very Scottish-based, and they played that fast-rucking game.

    “Now their game is very similar to the All Blacks in the way they play, their kicking strategy is almost a carbon copy of the All Blacks’ kicking strategy.

    “And their attack in some ways is similar to the All Blacks attack.

    “Gregor Townsend has probably liberated the team a little bit more than they were under [previous coach] Vern Cotter.

    “Whether that’s a good thing or not, we’ll see.”

    Fitter, tougher, happier

    Ten of the starting XV from Eddie Jones’ debut as England coach at Murrayfield are in the 2018 XV

    Meanwhile, Jones says England have become a “fitter and mentally tougher” team since his first game in charge two years ago.

    England ground out a 15-9 win at Murrayfield in 2016, and have only lost once since, winning 24 out of 25 Test matches.

    And Jones believes his side have developed an extra dimension as he prepares to return to the Scottish capital.

    “I think we have become a much more adaptable team,” Jones said.

    “We’ve got a mindset of being able to grind out games if we need to, but at the same time if the opportunity allows we can move the ball well.”

    Jones says Murrayfield is one of the “most iconic grounds in world rugby” and his team have to prepare to face the whole of the Scottish nation.

    “It’s a small country batting above its weight, and I’m sure we will feel that on Saturday,” he said.

    “This morning I spoke [to the players] about the honour of being able to play in the Calcutta Cup, it’s one of the most historic games in the rugby calendar.

    “So they feel honoured to play in this game, and I want them to be excited about playing in this game, but at the same time know they have a job to do.”

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