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The Wayne Smith verdict on Eddie Jones with the Wallabies

By AAP
(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith believes the Wallabies could spring a surprise at the World Cup in France later this year with Eddie Jones back at the helm since replacing Dave Rennie. Although Australia won World Cups in 1991 and 1999, they have struggled since reaching the final in 2015 and are currently seventh in the World Rugby rankings.

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Host France, Six Nations champions Ireland, world champions South Africa and New Zealand are the current top teams in the world and most pundits would pick one of them to raise the Webb Ellis Trophy in Paris on October 28.

All four of those teams are on the same side of the draw and Smith, one of the most respected coaches in the game, thinks that might create an opportunity for teams like England, Wales and Australia who have underperformed in recent years.

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“Eddie is going to get a lot of players back that Dave Rennie never had because of injury or overseas,” Smith told the All Blacks podcast. “He always gets an impact anyway. Most new coaches do and I would say they will be more of a danger than people expect. So that is going to be an interesting one to watch.”

New Zealand were short of their own high standards last season under Ian Foster, losing a home series to Ireland and a home Test to Argentina for the first time in the Rugby Championship. New Zealand Rugby have already anointed Scott Robertson as Foster’s successor after the World Cup and Smith thinks that may play to the All Blacks’ advantage in France.

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“To some extent, the pressure is off Ian,” he said. “He can now say what he wants and pick who he wants and the country will support it. There will be no consequences afterward, so he will give it heaps. They have got all the coaching and mental skills ability that you need and they are going to pick a strong team.

“I have got every confidence that they’re going to be tough. The All Blacks are always tough to beat but they are going to be tough.”

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Rico 406 days ago

A good sign for All Blacks fans.

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