This article was published on April 1st. Reader discretion is advised.
It is understood that Warren Gatland turned down the role as he wishes to return to coaching in New Zealand post the Rugby World Cup. Gatland was the clear favourite following a successful tour to Australia in 2013 and a tied series in New Zealand in 2017.
Joe Schmidt has also ruled himself out of contention as he wishes to take time away from coaching post his role with Ireland. This leaves Jones as the favoured option for the touring side.
Jones recently suggested that the role wouldn’t be of interest and described it as ‘an ambassador job’ in an interview with Courier Mail. “The last thing I want to do is spend eight weeks in a blazer,” he said.
The Australian has subsequently backtracked, describing the opportunity as too good to turn down. Speaking exclusively to RugbyPass, Jones explained what changed his mind.
“Mate, to be honest I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance, so when I said those things it was more as a defence mechanism and maybe also to rile Gats a little bit. But when they came knocking I realised I had to consider it. It’s one of the most sought after and prestigious coaching roles in rugby”
“I gave them my vision for the squad and they bought into it and I can’t wait to put my stamp on the team”
“In Australia, we grow up hating the POMs, so for me to be now coaching England and the British Lions just blows my mind”
Jones’ appointment will no doubt be met with surprise and anger amongst some fans, particularly given his divisive comments describing Wales as a “little s*** place” and Irish fans as “scummy”, something he’s unconcerned by.
“Mate, they’ll get over it when I start winning for them. That’s all they care about right? They hated me when England were smashing them a couple of years back, but they’ll love me when I’m doing it for the Lions. That’s all that matters.’
He has yet to decide on his coaching ticket, but is keen to bring in some outside help from his fellow Six Nations coaches.
“Mate, how good would Gregor Townsend be as my assistant? I could coach the first half and he could do the second half. We’d be unbeatable”
The official announcement is expected to be made later today at a press conference in Cardiff, with Jones set to be unveiled to the public on Dublin’s O’Connell Street on Wednesday, where he will be posing for pictures and signing autographs.
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