Eddie Jones, the Australian coach, is standing firm behind young flyhalf Carter Gordon, despite the team’s poor performance in Sunday’s historic World Cup defeat to Fiji.
The team lost 22-15 in their group match against Fiji in Saint Etienne – meaning their hopes of reaching the knock-out rounds hang more and more in the balance.
“It’s not good enough, but we’re doing our absolute best. I apologize, it’s my fault and I accept full responsibility,” Jones said after the game.
“I probably deserved worse. They should throw me baguettes and croissants. I deserve what I get.”
A Gordon blunder led to a try from Josua Tuisova early in the second half. The fly-half made an error of judgment in an attempt to touch a high ball and this meant that Fiji’s center was able to pick up the ball and score points to increase the Fijian’s lead even further.
“Carter is a young no. 10; he’s always going to have those days,” Jones told reporters.
“I’ve said it before – he’s going to have those days – but he’s going to pick his head up and carry on; he is a good, young player.”
????️”They should be throwing baguettes and croissants at me!” ????
— BBC ScrumV (@BBCScrumV) September 18, 2023
Jones caused a stir before the tournament by selecting Gordon as his only specialist flyhalf and leaving the experienced Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley out of his 33-man squad for the tournament.
Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams, now a TV commentator, says Gordon could benefit from a more experienced teammate after a performance like that on Sunday.
“We went with a young team; I don’t regret anything,” says Jones.
Jones was relatively upbeat despite the defeat which means the Wallabies must beat Wales or they could be kicked out of the tournament for the first time ever in the group stage of the World Cup.
“We’ve got Wales (this week) and the great thing about the World Cup is that it’s not the end of the road,” the coach said.
“I’m sure we’ll see a reaction. I was truly impressed with the character our young team showed.
“When Fiji are on the attack in a fairly hostile environment, it would have been easy for our team to lie down, but they didn’t.”
Jones did admit to being frustrated with his team’s inability to attack.
“We just couldn’t really get one part of our game going. If we just got the grind going it could have changed the game, but we couldn’t.
“We couldn’t dominate in the scrum and were beaten at the breakdown points.”
— BallCarrier (@BallCarrier_) September 18, 2023
Jones believes that the Aussies’ days are far from numbered.
“I decided on a young team and if it is the wrong decision, I will be held accountable for it,” he says.
“We had a slight setback, but that’s all part of the World Cup. I remember South Africa lost a game and (in 2019) won the World Cup.”
Jones also refused to use the absence of injured forwards Taniela Tupou and captain Will Skelton as an excuse for the defeat, saying the team “must be good enough to handle it”.
Both players will also miss the clash with Wales.