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Kefu: 'I'm nothing like Eddie!'

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'I'm nothing like Eddie... I'm probably a lot more relaxed!'

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu faces a battle of wits with the man who has helped shaped his coaching career in Sunday’s World Cup clash with England at the Sapporo Dome.

Kefu played under Eddie Jones for three years from 2001 to 2003 in a distinguished 60-cap Australia career that ended shortly before Martin Johnson lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy.

The 45-year-old former No8 now guides Tonga into the World Cup for the first time, recalling the lessons learned from his hard-nosed mentor.

“I’m nothing like Eddie! I’m probably a lot more relaxed. He can be quite intense,” Kefu said. “Some of the parts I have taken out of Eddie’s philosophy is around making sure the team are prepared properly.

“Eddie is a tough man. Eddie liked me so he wasn’t a coach who rode me quite regularly, but only because there was a core group of players who could turn up week in, week out and were always prepared to train.

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“Some of us weren’t the best trainers but he knew that when the games came we were bloody competitive. The young players coming through probably weren’t so lucky and if you weren’t totally professional and committed to being a professional footballer then Eddie would jump down your throat.

“He drives a tight ship, not only players but staff as well. He would get rid of the staff as quickly as he did players. The biggest thing I have taken out of it is to be prepared as much as possible in terms of your weekly plan and daily plan.”

When pressed on why he was among Jones’ favourites, Kefu said: “Probably because I could play a bit! He likes islanders as well. He has always enjoyed Islanders playing in his team.”

– Press Association 

WATCH: The new RugbyPass documentary on Toutai Kefu’s team, Tonga: Road To Japan

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'I'm nothing like Eddie... I'm probably a lot more relaxed!'