While Eddie Jones has lamented a lack of verbal sparring partners since his arrival in Australia, his England captain Courtney Lawes feels the master coach has mellowed since a 2016 series sweep over the Wallabies.
Veteran flanker Lawes has retained the captaincy for the first Test against Australia in Perth on Saturday night despite the return from injury of regular skipper Owen Farrell.
But Lawes believes the 2016 Jones model wouldn't have kept him in the role.
He said Jones, a famously harsh taskmaster who has burnt through 17 assistant coaches in his seven years in charge of England, was now open to compromise.
Asked if he'd noticed a difference in his coach since the three-nil whitewash in Australia six years ago Lawes replied: "Massively.
"I certainly wouldn't be skipper if he was still the same coming on to this tour.
"Eddie wants to challenge himself and if I'm honest, I'm probably skipper because I think differently to him, and I'm willing to challenge him as a leader.
"So I think that's why he's kept me on ... I make quite a lot of the lads comfortable around the team and that's the kind of team environment we want."
Lawes said he felt comfortable to relay to Jones about what the team wanted and needed.
"I'm an old geezer now and I don't mind saying what's on my mind," the 33-year-old said.
"I'm more than willing to essentially get a feeling what the team needs and then we come to a compromise instead of it being all one way, in terms of we just do what the coaches say."
While Jones may be letting his team have more say, he is missing the chat from the Wallabies camp that he had in 2016 with then-coach Michael Cheika.
"In 2016 we had Cheika here and there was a bit of niggle - it was good, good Australian sport," said Jones, with current Australian coach Dave Rennie refusing to engage at all this week.
"When you're sparring in a corner by yourself it's not much fun."
Australian Associated Press
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