Six Nations

Gatland: Jones must have license to speak his mind

England coach Eddie Jones must be allowed to speak his mind to avoid the build-up to key matches becoming boring, says Wales counterpart Warren Gatland.

Australian Jones' straight-talking manner caused controversy ahead of England's Six Nations contest with Ireland when he suggested Jonathan Sexton's parents would be worried by his health due to a "whiplash" style injury sustained against France.

Jones later insisted he had no regrets about those comments, but imposed a media ban on himself following England's win over Ireland to avoid "scaremongering".

Gatland joked that the pressure had been taken off his own shoulders by Jones' decision, but defended his opposite number ahead of Saturday's crucial Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

"When I was at Wasps and he was in Australia he came in. Part of that deal was that I went to visit him. As a Kiwi that’s a chance you don't get very often," Gatland said at a news conference. 

"I get on well with Eddie and he's taken the pressure off me a bit. 

"I've tried to keep my mouth shut and it's important you guys [the media] give him the licence to speak his mind otherwise you don't get any stories and the build-up becomes boring."

Wales are facing England for the first time since their brilliant win at Twickenham in the Rugby World Cup last September, but Gatland says Jones has given England an "edge" since he replaced Stuart Lancaster as coach.

"I think England are very similar [to the World Cup team]. It's pretty much the same team," he added. "They're a good side and I don't think they're too far away.

"They've got pretty close and have strength in depth with some young players who continue to improve. It will be one heck of a game and whoever wins probably wins the Six Nations.

"Eddie has brought a bit of an edge. He's said what he thinks and is opinionated and that's great for the game.

"It sounds like the players are enjoying the environment. We're treating Saturday as a final."