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'That doesn’t make him a bad coach. He’s still a very good coach'

By PA
Japan's new head rugby coach Eddie Jones speaks during a press conference to speak about the new squad for upcoming matches in Tokyo on May 30, 2024. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/Afp/AFP via Getty Images)

Ben Youngs has warned England that Eddie Jones remains an elite coach whose second term with Japan will be driven by his recent failures.

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Jones and Steve Borthwick will go head to head for the first time when the Australian and his former number two clash in the master and apprentice duel that underpins England’s tour opener in Tokyo on Saturday.

It has been just 18 months since Jones was sacked by the Rugby Football Union for a downturn in results, yet before returning to Japan he squeezed in a disastrous homecoming with the Wallabies that ended when they failed to emerge from the group stage of last autumn’s World Cup.

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But the 64-year-old has the highest win rate of any England head coach with 73 per cent and Youngs, his first choice scrum-half for the whole of his seven-year reign, insists he is still a formidable operator.

“Eddie is honestly one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. Tactically, he’s very, very good,” said England’s most capped player, who will be in action for Barbarians against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.

“For whatever reason it didn’t work with Australia. That doesn’t make him a bad coach. He’s still a very good coach. He’s still very intelligent in how he sees the game.

“We had a really successful time at England. We had some tough periods, of course we did. But he’s honestly one of the best coaches I’ve had.

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“I’m sure he’ll embrace the challenge of Japan. I’m sure he’ll bottle everything how it unfolded with England and how it unfolded with Australia.

“You just know that because of what he’s like as a character, he’ll be taking Japan back to the World Cup in Australia.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if suddenly Australia and Japan are in the same pool – that’s just the way the stars align with him – and he would love it.

“Rugby needs characters like Eddie and he brings a lot of entertainment. He divides opinion, I get that, but if I got the opportunity to work under him again I would jump at it.”

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The battle of the coaches is a fascinating sub-plot to a match that should see a revamped Japan team swept aside by England ahead of their first Test against New Zealand in a fortnight.

A stunning victory over Ireland and heroic last-gasp defeat to France put a shine on the Six Nations for Borthwick’s men, who are close to full strength for opponents they dispatched with ease at the World Cup.

“As soon as this fixture was announced I thought ‘that’s going to be an entertaining week’,” Youngs said.

“Steve will want momentum leading into the first game against New Zealand. England were really positive in the last two weeks of the Six Nations when the style complimented the team.

“Eddie will want high ball in play. He’ll want to shift England around. He’ll want the ball in and out of the scrums. England equally want to scrum, want to maul.

“Eddie and Steve are very tactical coaches so it will be quite interesting how that plays out.

“In terms of them both personally, without doubt they’ll both take satisfaction if they win.”

 

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1 Comment
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Colin 28 days ago

How on earth did Jones pick Youngs when he was always the 4th or 5th best Engllish 9 playing in the Premiership? Nope Jones selection and playing players out of position and tactics were simply awful as evidenced by the games lost. Most with Youngs at 9.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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