Monday 5 December 2016

Street-fighter Jones making England a force to be feared

Ger Gilroy

Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30

Eddie Jones is what’s euphemistically known in the game as ‘a character.' Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne
Eddie Jones is what’s euphemistically known in the game as ‘a character.' Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne

Eddie Jones is what's euphemistically known in the game as 'a character'. He's got balls. He backs himself and his team and he wants to be heard.

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He talks about the opposition in a punchy, straight-forward way instead of dry platitudes and this marks him out from the usual coach-speak.

He's bringing the psychological war and he doesn't care that it's obvious stuff. Perhaps it's just part of the Australian sports culture where the leagues recognise that treating the media like adults is useful.

It is new that England have someone with a bit of cunning and something of the street in the coach's chair. This isn't Stuart Lancaster or Andy Robinson that Ireland face this weekend.

This stuff shouldn't matter in any world where the games are played out in a calm rational manner. Sport is weird, though.

Fostered

Clive Woodward built a team that had a clear identity and happily fostered the attitude of doing whatever it took to win.

I wonder would Stuart Lancaster have been happy to see Neil Back's hand-swipe the ball from Peter Stringer? Part of you thinks he'd have sniffed haughtily and dropped him.

Jones is getting back to that, picking the best players no matter how troublesome they've been.

Manu Tuilagi is welcomed straight back into the squad, his pre-World Cup indiscretions forgiven. Jones' captain once called a referee a c**t. Dylan Hartley is an Eddie Jones player.

Jones is calculating, ruthless, experienced and brings an outsider's eye to the England job. It's a worrying development for the rest of the Six Nations that England don't have someone doomed to fail from the outset in charge of their team.

It may make the blazers' pre-game Pimms a little sharp, but afterwards they'll be toasting their Aussie friend. England are back.

Irish Independent

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