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Eddie Jones makes frank confession about his role with the Wallabies

By PA
A Japanese fan shows his support for Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Japan during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between USA and Japan at Kingsholm Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Gloucester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has stressed he is “100 per cent committed” to his job as Australia head coach ahead of a potential Rugby World Cup exit this weekend.

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Former England boss Jones, who has been linked to becoming Japan supremo after the tournament, has presided over a miserable campaign.

Pool C defeats to Fiji and Wales mean that Australia will make a pool-stage exit for the first time in World Cup history if Fiji claim a bonus-point win against Georgia on Saturday.

That would render Sunday’s encounter between the Wallabies and Portugal in Saint-Etienne a dead rubber in terms of Australia’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

“All we can do is try to get better every day,” Jones said. “That is the only thing we can do.

“We’ve got a young squad here, I purposefully picked a young squad – I think they are the best players in Australia.

“There is no lack of desire, no lack of work ethic, no lack of spirit in the team. They are a great bunch of boys.

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“We are just not good enough at the moment, but if we keep working the way we are, we will be.

“It’s not really about me, it is about the team. My only job is to get the team prepared as well as I can.

“I am 100 per cent committed to the job, and I’ve said that previously.

“I love coaching and I love the challenge. That’s the reason I came back to Australia, because I wanted to make a difference and I apologise I haven’t made a difference, but I want to make a difference.”

Jones has made three changes for the Portugal encounter, with flanker Fraser McReight earning a start in the number seven shirt and Tom Hooper moving to blindside instead of Robert Leota.

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A new centre combination, meanwhile, sees Izaia Perese and Lalakai Foketi partnered in midfield.

Team Form

Last 5 Games

2
Wins
1
1
Streak
1
14
Tries Scored
9
-25
Points Difference
-125
2/5
First Try
2/5
3/5
First Points
0/5
2/5
Race To 10 Points
1/5

Prop James Slipper will clock up an Australian record of 21 World Cup appearances, eclipsing the mark set by former scrum-half George Gregan 16 years ago.

Jones added: “If people have got a problem with results they come to me, right. And at the end of the tournament I will stand by that.

“If there needs to be a fall guy for the World Cup, then it is obviously me. When you become a head coach for a team, you take on that responsibility.

“The playing group has been absolutely fantastic, I couldn’t ask any more from them. So, therefore if there needs to be someone responsible for the performance, it’s me.”

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Poorfour 5 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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