England v New Zealand - Rugby World Cup 2019: Semi-Final
England v New Zealand - Rugby World Cup 2019: Semi-Final

Why Wallabies are stuck in tricky pursuit of Jones

Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Rugby Australia have got themselves in a pickle about what to do with Eddie Jones but this is not the time to go weak at the knees.

If they don't break the bank to sign him and the next coach is a flop, the board will have lost any last shreds of credibility.

But if they do sign him, they'll have to do it right now and on his terms, agreeing to the same sort of long-term deal they made with Michael Cheika.

 

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Eddie Jones masterminded England’s stunning upset of the All Blacks — and is now on the Wallabies’ radar. Picture: Getty
Eddie Jones masterminded England’s stunning upset of the All Blacks — and is now on the Wallabies’ radar. Picture: Getty

That proved to be a disaster, ensuring that the next coach - which at this stage still looks like being the New Zealander Dave Rennie - will be on a much tighter leash.

That sounds great in theory but that's not going to be enough to lure Jones away from England because right now, he's the one holding all the cards, So either way, Rugby Australia will have to concede on something.

After masterminding record wins over the Wallabies and New Zealand, Jones has just reminded everyone why he's the smartest coach in the game but it's the way he's turned England around that makes him the perfect fit for Australia.

New Zealand’s Dave Rennie is the front-runner to be Cheika’s replacement. Picture: Getty
New Zealand’s Dave Rennie is the front-runner to be Cheika’s replacement. Picture: Getty

Four years ago, the English were in disarray, humiliatingly knocked out of a World Cup they were hosting in the pool stages.

They had the money to go after any coach in the world but Jones was their target so they paid him a fortune and gave him the authority to call all the shots.

One of the first things Jones wanted to do was give the English a fresh injection of youth so he started bringing in younger players, including Maro Itoje, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.

Michael Cheika’s reign as Wallabies coach is over. Picture: Brett Costello
Michael Cheika’s reign as Wallabies coach is over. Picture: Brett Costello

They have been the breakout stars of the tournament and they all credit Jones for what he's taught them.

"He has been awesome. It is clear to the group how much he cares about the players," Underhill said.

"It's clear to us that he is a very good coach, a very capable coach. He makes life as simple as it can be for a player which is what you want. You don't want to be overloaded with messages or anything that's too complicated.

"You want to have a clear idea of what you are doing and he has delivered that. He has been relaxed and you give off energy to one another. As a group, we have given off that we are confident and we want to be in control and we are in as good a place mentally as we can be and Eddie is part of that."

 

 

It's that last comment from Underhill that should convince Rugby Australia to get Jones back home because there's no reason the Wallabies shouldn't still be at the top of world rugby.

Australia does have the talent to win World Cups - and an exciting crop of youngsters coming through that made the Under 20s World Cup this year - but keep getting outsmarted even though Jones keeps shouting the message out to everyone loud and clear..

"The psychological approach to the game is becoming increasingly important," he said.

"There's so little differences between the teams, that the ability of trying to understand what gives them energy and to try to take that away from them and with your own team, what gives us energy and what gives us strength, and you have to be disciplined enough to follow that."