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Eddie Jones doubles down on denying Japan talks, commits to Wallabies

By AAP
Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia, speaks to the media at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones remains committed to Australian rugby and says his full intention is to coach the Wallabies through to the home World Cup in 2027.

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Speculation has been rife that Jones would walk away from his position following Australia’s dismal campaign in France, where the Wallabies failed to make the quarter-finals for the first time in 10 editions of the global showpiece.

Reports of Jones being interviewed for the Japan national job last month, just days before the start of the tournament, derailed Australia’s campaign.

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Despite denying he was set to jump ship, the rumour mill continued to operate in overdrive, with speculation continuing the 63-year-old would have another Japan interview in November.

But Jones put that speculation to bed on Tuesday at a packed press conference at Coogee Oval, where he was grilled by reporters for 25 minutes.

He said he was “100 per cent” committed to staying on and again denied any links to, or talks with, Japanese rugby.

“I love working with young players,” he said.

“I loved seeing some of the young players maturing during the World Cup – and some struggled, and that is part of it.

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“I love the game and I love coaching those players, 100 per cent.

“If you look at the number of players we took to the World Cup, the number of players who are still to reach their peak – players like (Fraser) McReight, (Tate) McDermott, (Ben) Donaldson, (Tom) Hooper, (Max) Jorgensen – there are a number of players there who are at the start of their international career.

“Most of them showed during the World Cup that they have enough to really go forward and be very good players for Australia.

“We throw in a few other players from around the place and we have a nucleus of a really good team.

“That is the most positive thing.”

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Jones stressed that, while he wanted to remain, his position would be determined at a post-World Cup review with Rugby Australia.

RA chief Phil Waugh, who played under Jones in the 2003 World Cup final and for several other years, is on record as saying he was happy to take his former coach on his word about having not spoken with Japan.

Asked why he still believed he was the best man for the job, despite just two wins – over international minnows Portugal and Georgia – from 11 Tests in 2023, Jones said he has “the foresight to see where we need to go”.

“I’ve got the experience of being in difficult situations before,” he said.

“This is not an unusual situation. You’ve got a team that was struggling for a period of time.

“You’ve got underneath it a system that’s not supporting it. And at some stage, you bottom out.

“This is the opportunity now to change the team, as we’ve started, picking younger players with bright futures.

“We’ve got to look at the development system underneath as well. This is not a simple equation that ‘the Wallabies are bad’.

“Let’s be serious about this. The Wallabies are not where they need to be. But underneath that, we need to fix the system to go forward.

“If we can do that now, we’ve got a rosy future.”

“Sometimes, when you have changed, everyone hates change because it is uncomfortable. Everyone likes the status quo,” he said.

“And we had the courage, whether it be the right courage, to make the choice that we would go with a younger squad.

“The young squad will stand Australia in good stead.”

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