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Players not committed to maintaining their fitness and improving their skills during the COVID-19 lockdown will return in “terrible” condition when the sport is set to resume, England coach Eddie Jones has warned.

Rugby, like many other sports, has come to a standstill due to the pandemic and competitions have been suspended since March. The Six Nations tournament was put on hold with England at the top the standings.

With World Rugby postponing all test matches scheduled for July due to travel curbs and health protocols, a quick return for the contact sport is not on the cards.

“You are going to find out about your players, you are going to find out which of your players really want to get better and which players only want to get better to keep the coach happy,” Jones said in an online coaching class with other coaches.

“Some players will come out of this better, some players will come out of this terrible…. How your team comes out of it, you don’t know. But the big thing for the team is not what you do now, it’s what you do when you get back together.”

Jones said last month that the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis is likely to result in tighter rugby squads, which will put a premium on players who can operate at different positions and he reiterated that point.

“I would encourage each player to develop a new skill,” the 60-year-old Australian added. “Can they develop an offload skill out of the back?

“Again, look at their favorite player, see what skill they’ve got, and see if they can develop it.”

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