By New Zealand Herald
England rugby coach Eddie Jones has revealed the mind games he plays with his players, opponents and the media.
In a revealing interview as part of The Times’ podcast series, the well-travelled Australian says his bag of tricks also includes not turning up to team meetings.
And he even kissed an opponent once during his club playing days.
The 59-year-old also admits to deliberately waking up “worried” every day to retain his competitive drive.
Jones told interviewer Matt Dickinson: “I have set up team meetings and not turned up, set up training sessions and not turned up.
“[Allow] your players and staff to fail because that’s the way they learn the most.
“Because the players lead such controlled lives, particularly in any professional sports, they have probably gone from a sports high school, everything laid out for them, an academy, then a professional team, so they have a small range of experience and you have to create different experiences.”
Jones said he learnt the art of manipulation, including sledging, as a small hooker playing in Sydney club rugby.
“I was a little bloke … you had to find some advantage,” Jones said.
“Even today there are still massive advantages in saying the right thing at the right time.
“I always remember going back [for Southern Districts] and playing my old club Randwick,” Jones said.
“The tighthead prop was an old mate of mine and I had to find some way of upsetting him because we couldn’t handle him.
“So the first scrum, I kissed him on the cheek. He had no idea what to do, didn’t know how to react.
“I was trying to put some thought into how we could win that game … it worked. I wouldn’t kiss him again though.”
Jones largely isolates himself from traditional and social media noise, but is very aware of its effect on players.
This includes regarding press conferences as vital tools, although he admitted getting off message sometimes in the heat of the moment.
He cited English Premier League football managers Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) and Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) as influences in how to use the media.
“When City played Liverpool … Klopp said look, there were two good teams and they were a little bit better than us,” recalled Jones.
“It was just a nice approach to it, still giving his team plenty of confidence.
“The players listen to what you say at a press conference. You can influence their mood going forward.
“Klopp and Pep in particular are quite good at that, keeping a very positive vibe on things.
“When you lose a game when you are touted as being good, it becomes the end of the world. You lose two and the whole solar system is going to fall in.
“To keep on track, to keep focus is so important.”
But he wasn’t impressed with the style of another leader – US President Donald Trump.
“I never look at Twitter … the only person I’m interested in there is Donald Trump,” he said.
“I find the whole thing fascinating from a leadership point of view.
“The biggest country in the world can have someone who appears to be so ill-disciplined in what he puts out. But I suppose he can get away with it.”
Coming Soon on RugbyPass – Ben Foden
This article first appeared in the New Zealand Herald and is republished wit permission
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