England’s rugby stars got straight to work after touching down in South Africa ahead of their summer series against the Springboks, making full use of their hotel facilities as they engaged in a recovery session in the swimming pool.
Eddie Jones’ squad will chiefly be based at Umhlanga Rocks near Durban this month for a three-match tour that includes Tests in Johannesburg (June 9), Bloemfontein (June 16) and Cape Town (June 23).
While the likes of Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury looked relaxed in the water, Exeter Chiefs tight-head prop Harry Williams and Saracens lock Nick Isiekwe traded the oval ball for something more spherical as they were pictured engaging in a spot of water polo.
Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola and Chris Robshaw (L-R) arrive at Durban for South Africa tour
Harry Williams, Joe Marler, Danny Cipriani and Mike Brown (L-R) also touched down
Owen Farrell will captain England during their three-Test series against the Springboks
Maro Itoje later engages in a recovery session in the swimming pool at England’s hotel
The older Vunipola brother swims at the resort at Umhlanga Rocks, England’s base for the tour
ENGLAND’S SOUTH AFRICA TOUR SCHEDULE
First Test – June 9 (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Second Test – June 16 (Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein)
Third Test – June 23 (Newlands, Cape Town)
The outspoken Jones wasted no time in creating headlines shortly after England’s arrival in South Africa, hitting back at Bruce Craig by claiming that the Bath owner sounded like the ‘Donald Trump of rugby’.
‘He has the same hairstyle,’ he quipped. ‘Everything we do is about training to get better.
‘It’s not about satisfying some bloke who has plenty of money in Bath and thinks he knows everything about rugby.
‘I find it all a bit tedious. Really, I wish I knew that much.
‘If I knew that much I’d probably have as much money as him. Unfortunately I don’t, so I’ll just stick to rugby.’
The pair have recently been engaged in a very public club versus country row over the sheer amount of injuries suffered during England training camps during Jones’ tenure, with Craig labelling the number of casualties – at least 18 including five Bath players – as ‘totally unacceptable’.
Jones subsequently launched a stern defence of his training methods, saying he had not seen any figures to suggest that the number of injuries was unacceptable and insisting that he did not think anyone at a club had the right to tell him how to train a Test team.
Craig then labelled the Australian’s remarks on player welfare as ‘cynical’ and ‘inappropriate’.
Wasps lock Joe Launchbury also joins in with the recovery session after England get to work
Exeter Chiefs tight-head prop Harry Williams strains during a friendly game of water polo
Saracens second-row Nick Isiekwe ponders his next move as he takes possession of the ball
Eddie Jones reignited his war of words with Bath owner Bruce Craig after arriving in Durban
Jones added: ‘The players know that the training we do is for them to get better. We want to be the best team in the world and we train to get better.
‘Bruce is absolutely obsessed by intensity — Bruce is the intensity king of the world. We train appropriately for Test rugby.
‘It seems whatever Bruce says, goes. Who knows, maybe he’ll be the CEO of the RFU soon.
‘It’s not my job to speak to club owners. It’s my job to coach the national team and if he’s such an expert on training preparation, then possibly he should start coaching. I don’t really care what he says, it doesn’t affect what I do with the team.’
Bath loosehead Beno Obano became the latest player to fall victim to an injury on international duty last month as it emerged that he could miss up to 12 months after suffering what was described as ‘multiple ligament and hamstring tendon damage’ in a session in Brighton.
Worcester centre Ben Te’o also requires surgery on an existing minor quad muscle issue aggravated during camp.