England head coach Eddie Jones has taken an indirect dig at Wales head coach Warren Gatland by swatting away suggestions of coaching the British and Irish Lions in 2021 while refusing to rule out the prospect of taking the helm of the Wallabies.
Talking to the Courier Mail, Jones emphatically ruled himself out of contention to lead the Lions to South Africa in two years’ time after his contract with England runs out, labelling the role of Lions head coach as an “an ambassador job”.
Jones had previously joined Gatland as a leading candidate to take the job, with the latter having been involved in the previous three Lions tours, the last two of which as head coach when they beat Australia in 2013 and drew with New Zealand in 2017.
However, Jones’ recent comments eliminates him from contention.
“The last thing I want to do is spend eight weeks in a blazer,” he said.
“That’s an ambassador job. I’m a coach. I’d rather coach the Queensland Sheffield Shield team.”
Gatland, who steered Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this month, is set to stand down from his position in Wales following this year’s World Cup, and his coaching future remains unclear.
Suggestions have arisen that he could be in line to replace Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika, who is also set to step away from his position following the World Cup.
Jones has also been touted as a possible replacement, and unlike his statements about the Lions job, he refused to rule out the prospect of coaching the side he led to the World Cup final in 2003.
“I don’t think I would ever say never, but it’s not something I have really thought about,” he said.
“One thing they [the Wallabies] are not short of is talent. Cheik is in a good position. This could be his last hurrah and he’s got nothing to lose.”
Jones believed the addition of new director of rugby Scott Johnson will be beneficial for Australia’s bid for a successful World Cup in six months’ time.
“Scott is coming in for the long term, not the short term. There’s no value in him having any raging fights with Cheika. He’s experienced enough to give him a free rein.
“Rugby Australia has already had a few sacrificial lambs. Steve Larkham has gone, the strength and conditioning guy [Haydn Masters] has gone. I think they’ll leave Cheik alone and let him see what he can do.”
Australia will face Gatland’s Wales, Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay in Pool D in Japan later this year, and could face Jones’ England in the quarter-finals.
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