Jones ventures with young men after disastrous defeats


Australia head coach Eddie Jones seemingly brushed aside his existing match strategy and made some radical changes to the Wallaby team.

This follows a series of crushing defeats for the Wallabies since Jones took over the reins in January.

Jones left veteran players such as Michael Hooper, Quade Cooper and Jed Holloway out of the team and replaced them with far less experienced men. Only eight of these players have previously participated in a World Cup rugby tournament.

“I support the young guys because they deserve it. As simple as that. I didn’t present it to them on a tray, they earned it,” says Jones.

“The experts wrote us off. No one believes we can do it, but we believe we can. The coaches believe, the players believe and that’s all that matters.”

Among the many up-and-coming young players, Carter Gordon and Tate McDermott were selected as scrum-half pair. Nic White is on the substitutes’ bench as scrumhalf.

With Hooper out of the squad, Jones’ backline consists of youngsters Tom Hooper, Fraser McReight and Rob Valetini.

He also gave the versatile 18-year-old Max Jorgensen a chance and included him in the team.

Former coach John Connolly, who succeeded Jones in 2006 after his first term in charge, went on an extraordinary tirade after the Wallabies lost the first two Test matches. He described the defeats as a “damned disaster”.

“How did we end up with Eddie again? He is full of himself. He talks about a great game, but then plays a bad one,” Connolly told the Daily Telegraph said.

“When I took over from Eddie, the players were like beaten sheepdogs. There was no leadership. There was no development. I can’t believe we made the same mistake again.”

The Australian reports Jones has “done a wonderful job of distracting everyone from the fact that Australian rugby has turned into a train wreck”.

Hard work

After three bitter defeats, the Wallabies produced their best performance so far under the guidance of Jones with their 23-20 defeat against the All Blacks in Dunedin in New Zealand this month.

“I was much more positive and optimistic than many other people I spoke to during and after the game,” said former captain Stirling Mortlock. Mortlock was part of Jones’ team that reached the World Cup final in 2003.

“I was at both home games and I saw improvement at each test game. Although we have lost all four, there are certain aspects of our game where I have seen definite improvement.”

Mortlock says one concern was the team’s fitness, but he believes the young team should be given time to build momentum.

“In World Cup tournaments everything is about your chances to build momentum and that will certainly be the focus for the Wallabies.”

However, this positivity faded after the Wallabies’ 41-17 defeat against France last month.