Eddie Jones has described Mike Brown as the Peter Shilton of rugby after mounting an angry defence of England’s fullback following their Six Nations defeat of Wales at Twickenham.
Brown was magnificent in treacherous conditions as Wales were edged 12-6 in a tense Six Nations showdown at Twickenham, commanding the air and making more ground than any other player.
The adversity was tailor-made for Brown’s fighting instincts and Jones rounded on perceived criticism of his first choice in the No. 15 jersey amid calls for Anthony Watson or Elliot Daly to be properly tested in the position.
In a radio interview given immediately after the match, an incensed Jones went on the offensive.
“You guys [the media] tell me Mike Brown can’t play Test rugby… you guys are unbelievable!” Jones said. “You’re always criticising him, now he has a good game you’re all on the bandwagon. You guys are better selectors than we are, that’s what you think you are.”
Jones later gave a more measured response when asked about Brown, even comparing him to England’s most capped footballer, who made 125 international appearances across two decades.
“It would definitely be Mike Brown who is my man of the match,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.
“He’s been the most criticised player in English rugby and again he’s showed why we have been winning games. He’s like the Peter Shilton of rugby fullbacks.
“He’s done that in 24 Tests for us. He’s our fullback, he carries the high ball, he plays with courage and he plays the way that England want to play.”
Jonny May ran in two tries as England raced into a 12-0 lead inside the opening quarter, but Wales kept pounding away and departed Twickenham nursing a strong sense of grievance after Gareth Anscombe had a try ruled out by the television match official.
Anscombe appeared to exert downward pressure with an outstretched hand at the end of an attack down the left wing, but the TMO thought otherwise in a decision described by Wales coach Warren Gatland as a “terrible mistake”.
England’s title defence is building momentum after victories over Italy and Wales and their record under Jones now stands at a remarkable 24 wins from 25 Tests ahead of their trip to Scotland in a fortnight.
“It was an arm wrestle against Wales and one side has to give and they’re the most pleasing games to win” Jones said.
“We wanted to start well because they came rolling down the M4, very cocky and it was important that we start the game well and took a bit of the wind out of their sails, which we did and that got us the win.
“We didn’t get much love from the referee, that’s the way it goes and it means we didn’t build on that scoreline.”