After two Rugby Championship defeats against South Africa (43–12) and Argentina (34–31), it is clear that Eddie Jones cannot just wave a magic wand to straighten out the Wallabies: Hard work is undoubtedly their frontline.
The 63-year-old coach was appointed as the Wallabies’ head coach in January after England put him in the way.
Despite Hamish McLennan, Rugby Australia’s chief executive, at the time, the assurance that the “best coach in the world” was back in his native country, the Wallabies are still struggling to hold a candle to other teams.
“You have to lie flat on the ground first before you can get up. I initially hoped that we would see an immediate turnaround, but this is not going to happen. We have to start all over again,” Jones said in an interview with Sky Sports.
According to the coach, the Wallabies are almost used to floundering around on the playing field.
“We will have to polish the team’s mindset; we will have to change the players’ training habits and the way they think about the game.”
Still, he enjoys the challenge and he believes that the Aussies can show other teams a thing or two at the World Cup tournament in France.
“The Rugby Championship is really little more than a pre-season for us in the run-up to the World Cup. Yes, we would like to win, but I also use it to get to know the players better. Australia has always been a good tournament team – just look at our World Cup record. We do well in big tournaments and that touch of history definitely counts in our favour.”
Under Jones’ supervision, the Rose also blossomed
Despite a disappointing 2022 – where the defeat against the Springboks at Twickenham was the last straw – Jones did not do badly in England at all.
His winning percentage (73%) is the highest among all Rose coaches, while he held up the Six Nations silverware three times with the team. Then there was the remarkable run of 18 unbeaten matches, while the Englishmen also progressed to the World Cup finals in 2019 under his watch.
He does sometimes speak too soon
Before the Rugby Championship showdown against the South Africans at Loftus Versfeld, Jones complained about a “half-baked” Springbok team.
“I was hoping for their best team. I don’t want to win against a half-baked Springbok team,” Jones told reporters in Sydney.
However, a flying Kurt-Lee Arendse saw to it that the home team not only won the game easily, but also that Jones will count his words when the Wallabies meet again against the Boks.