Eddie Jones draws line in sand over Rassie ruckus: 'We need to respect the referees'

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  • England coach Eddie Jones refused to elaborate on SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus's suspension.
  • Jones said the importance and the protection of match officials are paramount for the health and longevity of the game.
  • Jones made four changes to his match-day 23 that will face the Springboks at Twickenham on Saturday.

In London

England coach Eddie Jones refused to comment on SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus's suspension on Thursday, saying that referees need to be respected.

Jones was speaking at the England team announcement press conference for Saturday's South Africa Test at Twickenham where he made four changes to the side that drew 25-25 against New Zealand last week.

Jones initially joked about whether Erasmus, who has been banned for two games for his tweets that highlighted officiating inconsistencies in the losses against Ireland and France in early November, would find a way into the stadium on Saturday. 

"He may come in a laundry box, mate, but I'm sure he'll get in somewhere," Jones initially joked, before turning serious, with the Australian saying the importance and sanctity of match officials can't be infringed upon.

READ | Bok achiever De Allende gives sneak peek into team bonds on tricky tour: We all respect each other

"I'm not going down that track. The only thing I'd say is that we need to respect the referees. We need to look after referees as they're an important part of our game," he added with a sterner tone. 

"What's happened has happened."

Saturday's Test will also be Manu Tuilagi's 50th, with the powerful centre having made his debut back in 2011.

Teams:

England

15 Freddie Steward, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Alex Coles, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Canan Moodie

Jones said the 50th cap was a wonderful achievement for Tuilagi, but also saw the game as an opportunity for his team to be better.

England has had a topsy-turvy autumn nations campaign where they lost to Argentina, crushed Japan, and drew against New Zealand.

ALSO READ | Marx: Boks ready to 'empty their tanks' at Twickenham

"It's been a difficult time for him, and the pleasing thing is that in the three weeks, he's been at every training session," Jones said.

"We had a tough session on Wednesday, and he got through everything. I'm pleased about his progress and that of the team.

"It's another opportunity for the team to step up. We started slowly against Argentina and we've gotten a bit better with each game."

Saturday's Test kicks off at 19:30 (SA time).

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