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Rugby Australia statement: Eddie Jones 'story'

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)

Rugby Australia is standing by its man after reports Eddie Jones has been interviewed to take over the Japan coaching role after the Rugby World Cup in France.

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Jones signed to coach the Wallabies through to the next tournament in 2027, hosted by Australia, but is reportedly considering leaving the the post regardless of the team’s success or failure in France.

He interviewed with Japan rugby officials just days before the World Cup started in Paris earlier this month, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

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RA chairman Hamish McLennan, who brought Jones in to replace Dave Rennie in January, and chief executive Phil Waugh were asked about Jones’s position.

Waugh issued a statement which McLennan backed, although declined to comment further, when contacted by AAP.

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“I take people at their word and Eddie’s said there’s nothing in it. So, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of the story and everyone’s focus is on this weekend’s crucial game against Wales,” Waugh said.

The Wallabies face Wales in Lyon on Sunday night (Monday 5am AEST) needing victory to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

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The Australians have never been eliminated at the pool stage since the first tournament held in 1987.

In the lead-up to the Wales match Jones, who was sacked by England late last year, said his future could hinge on the result.

He steered Australia to the World Cup final in 2003 in his first stint with the Wallabies but his record is one win from seven Tests since replacing Rennie in January.

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“At the end of the World Cup there’ll be a review and given the results we’ve had then maybe Australian Rugby doesn’t want to keep me,” Jones said.

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“That’s the reality of the job I live in and I understand that.”

Jones was repeatedly pressed by a journalist on his commitment to coaching the Wallabies beyond the tournament but refused to answer, saying he was only focused on the match against the unbeaten Welsh.

“I’m just worried about coaching against Wales this week,” was his response.

Jones last week denied being in the mix for the Japanese vacancy, dismissing a report from Japanese media that named him as a possible candidate as “bulls*** and gossip”. 

He previously coached the Brave Blossoms for three years, departing after their famous victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.

Wallabies assistant coach Jason Ryles said on the eve of the crunch clash he would be surprised if Jones walked away from the role.

“I see his vision beyond the World Cup and it’s one of those things where he hasn’t said anything to us, obviously,” Ryles said. 

“Basically, watch this space. There is a big job ahead for the next four years with the Wallabies, which he’s started already. He’s got some pretty good foundations down.

“To walk away from that would be a bit of a surprise because there is a lot of green shoots for the future. I’m not too sure what he’ll do to be honest with yo u. It’s good to have options by the sounds of it.”

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mitch 58 minutes ago
The Wallabies team Joe Schmidt must pick to win back Bledisloe Cup

Rodda will be a walk up starter at lock. Frost if you analyse his dominance has little impact and he’s a long way from being physical enough, especially when you compare to Rodda and the work he does. He was quite poor at the World Cup in his lack of physicality. Between Rodda and Skelton we would have locks who can dominate the breakdown and in contact. Frost is maybe next but Schmidt might go for a more physical lock who does their core work better like Ryan or LSL. Swain is no chance unless there’s a load of injuries. Pollard hasn’t got the scrum ability yet to be considered. Nasser dominated him when they went toe to toe and really showed him up. Picking Skelton effects who can play 6 and 8. Ideally Valetini would play 6 as that’s his best position and Wilson at 8 but that’s not ideal for lineout success. Cale isn’t physical enough yet in contact and defence but is the best backrow lineout jumper followed by Wright, Hanigan and Swinton so unfortunately Valetini probably will start at 8 with Wright or Hanigan at 6. Wilson on the bench, he’s got too much quality not to be in the squad. Paisami is leading the way at 12 but Hamish Stewart is playing extremely well also and his ball carrying has improved significantly. Beale is also another option based on the weekend. Beale is class but he’s also the best communicator of any Australian backline player and that can’t be underestimated, he’ll be in the mix.

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