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'The boys won't know what's hit them' - Eddie Jones' return reactions

By PA
Eddie Jones - PA

While forecast by some, the dramatic return of Eddie Jones to Australian rugby not much more than a month after being sacked off by the RFU has certainly thrown the cat among the pigeons.

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Jones, who previously led the team from 2001 to 2005 and oversaw the 2003 World Cup final defeat to England, has signed a four-year deal to replace the Dave Rennie.

His seven-year tenure with England ended in December with his sacking after a run of poor results, which included six defeats and a draw in 12 matches. Jones, who is 62 years old, will begin his new job on January 29th.

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Former Wallaby Tim Horan said hiring the Tasmanian was “brave and has some risk”.

“Eddie Jones as new Wallabies coach……brave and has some risk. But maybe a risk worth taking considering the Wallabies current win/loss ratio,” the two-time World Cup-winning centre tweeted.

“Need a Bledisloe Cup (within 2 years) and RWC Semi and Lions win to justify the decision. Strap yourself in for the ride.”

Horan’s fellow 1991 World Cup winner Simon Poidevin supported the move, saying the Rugby Football Union had given Australia “a true gift” by sacking Jones.

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“Rugby Australia has made the right decision in appointing Eddie Jones,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The Rugby Football Union gave Australian rugby a true gift when they sacked Eddie, putting in play one of the most talented, successful and hard-working rugby coaches the world has seen.”

Matt Giteau tweeted that Wallabies won’t know what’s hit them: “Eddie back. I feel for Rennie but at the same time if anyone can turn things around quickly it’s Eddie. Some of the boys won’t know what’s hit them.”

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Former Wallabies prop Ben Alexander noted: “Rugby Union featuring in the news before tennis during the Aus Open… unheard of.”

The decision clearly moved veteran commentator Nick Mullins, who posted: “Hang on… Eddie Jones has just taken over as Australia coach? If it hadn’t been so inevitable it’d be ridiculous. And all this a few hours before Steve Borthwick names his first England squad. Stay tuned…”

But not everyone was so enthusiastic.

Australia’s leading World Cup try-scorer Drew Mitchell tweeted: “It reminds me a lot of 2019. 6-8 months before a World Cup, Rugby AU’s leadership lose faith in the current coach. 2019 they appointed a selection panel because they didn’t have faith in (Michael) Cheika. 2023 they sack Rennie.

“At what point does the focus turn on the people who make the appointments in the first place? These tweets aren’t about my thoughts on who or who shouldn’t be the man in charge. To some extent, feels like history is repeating itself.”

However, Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said: “It is a major coup for Australian rugby to have the best coach in the world return home to coach the iconic Wallabies and to oversee the Wallaroos programme.

“Eddie’s deep understanding of our rugby system and knowledge of our player group and pathways will lift the team to the next level.

“This represents an opportunity to secure a coach of immense expertise and experience at the biggest competitions, and we did not want to miss it.”

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