x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Eddie Jones eyes England and Japan vacancies

The former coach of Australia is firm favourite to replace John Kirwan in Japan but recognises the tantalising prospect of guiding England at their home World Cup in 2015.

Eddie Jones is thrown into the air by Suntory Sungoriath players after winning the 48th All-Japan Rugby Championship Final against Sanyo Wild Knights at Prince Chichibu Stadium in Tokyo in February.
Eddie Jones is thrown into the air by Suntory Sungoriath players after winning the 48th All-Japan Rugby Championship Final against Sanyo Wild Knights at Prince Chichibu Stadium in Tokyo in February.

Eddie Jones has stressed his desire to be coaching at the next Rugby World Cup and confirmed his interest in the vacant positions with England and Japan.

The former coach of Australia is the firm favourite to replace John Kirwan in Japan, the country of his mother's birth, but his record of guiding the Wallabies to the final in 2003 and his part in South Africa's victory in 2007 also makes him an obvious candidate to succeed Martin Johnson in the England job.

Jones, 51, said he is "still waiting to see" the next move in the recruitment process by the Japanese Rugby Union and is excited about the possibility of leading Japan as the hosts of the 2019 World Cup.

But he also recognises what a tantalising prospect it would be to spearhead England's bid as the host nation in 2015.

The Australian said he would have no qualms about accepting the England job, despite the fact it was Sir Clive Woodward's team who beat his Australia side in a thrilling 2003 final.

"You always want to coach your own country, and I did that, but it's normally that your country divorces you - not you divorcing them," Jones said. "I'd live to coach at the next World Cup."

Jones, whose daughter is studying in England, has not been approached by the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) and is waiting to see if they decide they want to appoint their first foreign coach or opt for an Englishman.

"If they go for an Englishmen then I think they [the RFU] will advertise," Jones said. "If they go for the best candidate then they will headhunt, and then I'd like to think I'm in a position to be headhunted.

"It's a massive opportunity."

Jim Mallinder, Graham Henry and Dean Ryan have been linked with the job, but Nick Mallett and Woodward have ruled themselves out of the running.

"To be very clear, I've got no wish to coach England again," Woodward, who is currently performance director at the British Olympic Association, said this week.

England crashed out amid much acrimony of last month's World Cup at the quarter-final stage, and Jones said they have underperformed since Jonny Wilkinson broke the hearts of his Australia side with a drop goal in 2003.

"They got to the final in 2007 but never played well," Jones said. "They have seriously underachieved since 2003. They have got an outstanding domestic league, huge resources, a good player pool and some good youngsters, but they have not been cohesive in the way they have wanted to play and got [their] selections wrong.

"They have got a good scrum and a good line out, but they have not built on that. They've not played well for some time now and only won one Six Nations. They should consistantly be a top four-side in the world, as [Sir] Clive Woodward made them."

Johnson was Woodward's inspirational captain in 2003 but he failed to transfer his success on the field to coaching on the training paddock.

Jones expressed sympathy for Johnson, who resigned as team manager this week.

"Team manager was the right role for him, but he then turned into the head coach with no coaching experience at all. If he had an experienced head coach with him it may have been different. I remember when I first coached in the Super 12, I was way out of my depth, and I had coaching experience before that. I just hope he's [Johnson] not lost to rugby, as he has so much to offer the game."

Jones has been in the international coaching wilderness since a consultancy role with the Springboks in 2007. He has since coached at Saracens, the English side, and worked as an adviser to the Suntory Sungoliath team [in the Japanese rugby union], but is now itching to return to top-level rugby and should be top of the list to replace Kirwan.

"Coaching Japan would be an exciting challenge," Jones said. "They are ranked 15th in the world, but with the strong financial support they have and the improving domestic league, they are capable of being a top-10 side.

"I'm still waiting to see what they [the Japense Rugby Football Union] do. It's a massive opportunity to coach Japan at the World Cup in 2019. I'd like to be part of that."

kaffleck@thenational.ae