LYON: Wallabies great Mat Rogers has blasted Eddie Jones’ reported pre-Rugby World Cup flirtation with Japan as “poor form.”
The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday broke the bombshell news that Wallabies boss Jones was secretly interviewed by Japanese rugby officials to take over as coach just days before Australia’s World Cup campaign started in France.
Jones is contracted with Rugby Australia until the home World Cup in 2027 but the report stated he was one of three shortlisted candidates for the Japan job.
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Jones was sacked by England in December after winning just five of 12 Tests in 2022.
He then replaced Dave Rennie with the Wallabies in January and has a 1-6 record leading into Monday’s (5am AEST) do or die World Cup clash with Wales in Lyon.
“It is pretty poor form,” Rogers, who played under Jones at the 2003 World Cup, told Wide World of Sports.
“Coaching is a cut throat world but I certainly don’t agree with him doing that before the World Cup. It’s not ideal news to break less than 24 hours out from probably the most important match in Australian Rugby World Cup history.”
The Wallabies coach declined to comment to the Herald, reiterating his position from last week that there was no truth to similar reports from Japanese media and that his focus was on Wales.
Rogers said news stories such as this did not distract him during his illustrious playing career but did fear for the ramifications for a young Wallabies squad.
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“It will be interesting to see how the players react. This might have an impact. He seemed to be investing a lot in these young guys which I would say would be reciprocated in relation to them believing in him and hoping they’re going to be together for a while, given the nature of his contract and their age. So, yeah, it could be a little unsettling.”
Rogers said he had heard whispers that RA had given Jones carte blanche at this World Cup.
“We’ll back you, we’ll review after the World Cup and we’ll work together on making decisions if things don’t work out. If they hired him to do a job, they’ve got to give him the opportunity to do it.
“We’re a long way off the pace as a nation and it’s got very little to do with the last 12 weeks of Eddie as coach.
“It’s got more to do with the last 20 years than the last 12 weeks. But they thought they had Eddie for the next five years.”
Jones told reporters on Friday that he may lose his job after the World Cup and that he had “let Australian rugby down” with a shocking run of results this year.
But Wallabies attack coach Jason Ryles on Saturday said he would be “surprised” if Jones departed after the tournament.
“There’s a big job ahead for the next four years with the Wallabies, which he’s started already and got some pretty good foundations down,” Ryles told reporters.
“To walk away from that would be a bit of a surprise, because there is a lot of green shoots there for the future.
“But I am not too sure what he will do to be honest with you. It’s good to have options, by the sounds of it…
“The criticism back home? Honestly, we are in a good bubble over here. I think Eddie has dealt with all of that, by the sound of it.”
WALLABIES (15-1): Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Ben Donaldson, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Tom Hooper, Rob Leota, Richie Arnold, Nick Frost, James Slipper, Dave Porecki (c), Angus Bell
Reserves: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa’amausili, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu
WALES (15-1): Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Jac Morgan (c), Aaron Wainwright, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Gareth Thomas
Reserves: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Henry Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins, Taine Basham, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Rio Dyer
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)