Eddie Jones has respect of England players but must start delivering results, says Gregan

By Sports Desk June 30, 2022

Eddie Jones has the respect of England's players but must deliver results if he is to lift pressure from his shoulders ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup, according to former Australia captain George Gregan.

Experienced coach Jones had his future called into question on the back of another poor Six Nations campaign for England, who finished a distant third behind Ireland and champions France with two wins from five matches.

Jones is under contract until after the 2023 World Cup and has been given the support of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), although performance director Conor O'Shea confirmed in March the search is under way for the 62-year-old's long-term successor.

Former Australia boss Jones has repeatedly stated that peaking in time for next year's showpiece in France is his big aim, with his side's three-Test series Down Under – their first summer tour in four years – providing an opportunity to further experiment.

While Gregan can understand the questions being asked of Jones, the retired scrum-half – who played under Jones for Australia and the Brumbies – understands supporters want to see signs of progress now.

"I think pressure is always there with a head coach," said Gregan, ahead of Saturday's first Test in Perth. "I'm not going to speak on his behalf, but he knows that as a head coach it's all results driven in professional sport.

"If you're not getting the results, and particularly if you're not getting consistent Ws [wins], then it does come around: 'Why is the team not performing?' That was definitely the case with Six Nations where there's patches of really good performances.

"But then obviously some things also which can get taken out of your hands, which is decision-making, you lose plays in the bin, all that kind of stuff. But that's rugby. And so how do you adapt? And how do you adjust? But they're all good experiences and learning experiences.

"I know there was no Jonny May, there was no Owen Farrell, there's a lot of players missing in that Six Nations campaign, they'll probably take part in this coming tour. And then he's built a nice squad."

Gregan is supporting The Open Championship Claret Jug Tour, partnered with HSBC UK, and he added: "I think you've always got your eyes a little bit ahead for the World Cup. And that's definitely the case for someone like Eddie and all coaches, but it's also the here and now, and they'll be looking to really improve and try not to drop out of games. I think every good team wants to do that."

 

England may have struggled for consistent form, but they have won their last eight Tests against Australia since October 2015, conceding an average of just 14 points per game across the last four of those matches.

Jones is undefeated against his country of birth during his near-seven-year England tenure, meanwhile, and famously oversaw a series whitewash in 2016.

Gregan believes the England boss will have the full backing of his dressing room.

"Eddie is a real players' coach. He's really driven to create the best environment for his players to perform," Gregan said. "He's the hardest marker on the team's performance on himself. I think you see that a lot.

"He'll deflect to the team when it's doing well, and he’ll take ownership when it's not doing well. That's a classic head coach, and he's never wavered from that. And I think that's why the players really respect him.

"He's hard, he's very consistent in terms of his messaging. He's very clear on what he wants the team to do. But he also empowers the playing group to try and do that. And that's the coach's coach.

"And ultimately, I think from my experiences with Eddie, he really wants the players to be sort of taking the reins on the field and making sure they're really comfortable making decisions to provide support.

"But as you know, coaches are sort of in the grandstand, there's only a limited amount that they can do once the players are on the pitch. I think that's what he tries to do, and all good head coaches try to encourage those leaders and the players on the field to make good decisions, which hopefully put you on the right side of the ledger."

Australia have lost three straight Tests heading into their first fixture with England this weekend, two of those by a margin of no more than two points – the last time they lost more successive games was a four-game stretch from June to August in 2018.

However, the Wallabies have won their last four matches on home turf, and four of their past seven when hosting European opposition, which Gregan believes will make for an entertaining series.

"England playing Australia in any sport is always exciting – particularly rugby," Gregan said. "Obviously there's that little touch with Eddie being a former Wallabies coach and obviously Australian. And he's had a great record against the Wallabies since he's taken over the helm in English rugby.

"It's gonna be a fantastic series, Dave Rennie, the Wallaby coaching staff and the playing group will be really targeting the series as something, which is another step in the right direction for being consistent and beating some of the top international teams.

"Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, on the bounce. So, three big Test matches over three consecutive weeks. And I think both teams, stating the obvious, will want to get off to a pretty hot start in Perth, because it's always good to be one up in those types of series."


:: The Open Championship Claret Jug Tour will visit schools, golf clubs, city centres and HSBC branches.

Related items

  • Savea '100 per cent' behind All Blacks head coach Foster after win over Springboks Savea '100 per cent' behind All Blacks head coach Foster after win over Springboks

    Ardie Savea says he backs "my coach" Ian Foster "100 per cent" after New Zealand lifted the gloom with a magnificent 35-23 win over South Africa on Saturday.

    Foster may still lose his job as All Blacks head coach despite a thrilling Rugby Championship victory at Ellis Park.

    New Zealand opened up a 15-0 lead in the first half, but the world champions came storming back and were in front for the first time with 12 minutes to play.

    With Beauden Barrett in the sin bin it looked like the Springboks would extend the All Blacks' losing streak to four matches, but late tries from David Havili and Scott Barrett ensured they stopped the rot and lifted the Freedom Cup.

    Foster said he has no idea if he will remain in his role despite the much-needed win, but Savea - who was immense in Johannesburg - is fully behind his embattled head coach.

    "This performance was for all of us, but for me, that's my coach, I back him 100 per cent, side by side," said the number eight, who made 13 carries for 58 metres.

    "He has been under a lot of pressure, and I know Foz [Foster] doesn't want to make it about himself, but I just want everyone to know that all the players have got his back.

    "He's a great coach, he's got great coaches beside him, and we back him 100 per cent. I hope everyone that reads this backs us because we are going to get it."

    Asked if Foster deserves to stay on, Savea replied: "Like I said, he's my coach. That's it."

    Captain Sam Cane and Samisoni Taukei'aho crossed in the first half, while Richie Mo'unga scored 15 points with the boot for the holders

    Savea expressed his pride following another almighty battle at the end of a challenging week.

    "The last couple of weeks this team has been through adversity, and in life and sport when you go through adversity it brings the best out of people," he said. 

    "I saw something saying belief only takes us so far … it took us pretty far this week. I'm just proud of everyone in this team stepping up, especially at Ellis Park. It's bloody hard, I'm knackered, and can't wait to hit the sack and go see the family next week."

    He added: "There are always doubters, always negativity, but that's okay, because that makes everyone better, and people care. Our fans care, the media care, which is fair, but also we had to step up and do our job.

    "When people go through adversity, when they're stuck in the trenches, some things come out that make us special. Today that was it, but it's only a start. We've won one out of two in the Rugby Championship, and we’ve got to keep going."

     

  • Rennie lays into Australia after Pumas hammering Rennie lays into Australia after Pumas hammering

    Dave Rennie pulled no punches as he labelled Australia's 48-17 Rugby Championship hammering at the hands of Argentina as a "massive disappointment" and "not good enough".

    The depleted Wallabies were without a host of players including fly-half Quade Cooper, who damaged his Achilles in the opening-round win over the Pumas last weekend.

    Even accounting for the absentees, Australia were still pre-match favourites but were completely outclassed in San Juan as Argentina ran in seven tries.

    It represented the Pumas' biggest ever win over Australia and moved them top of the standings after two games.

    Speaking to Stan Sports after the game, New Zealander Rennie made no excuses for his side's poor performance.

    "Massive disappointment. That's not good enough," Rennie said.

    "We would [like to have a consistent team list] but we had a good enough side to do the job

    "We gave them a few soft points early on and fought our way back into it. We have to do better and we'll get a few players back. Whoever puts the jersey on has to front up but we weren't good enough.

    "We conceded four tries with kicks in between us and got dominated in the collision area. We created plenty of opportunities but we have to be patient and our rucks not a disaster.

    "We just weren't clinical enough. We definitely lacked cohesion with a few changes. We'll look at the footage but we're better than that."

    Australia will look to rebound when they host South Africa in Adelaide on August 27.

  • Tuchel backs Gallagher and Hudson-Odoi to fight for minutes at Chelsea Tuchel backs Gallagher and Hudson-Odoi to fight for minutes at Chelsea

    Thomas Tuchel has backed Conor Gallagher and Callum Hudson-Odoi to fight their way into first-team contention at Chelsea. 

    However, the Blues boss was philosophical when asked whether either England international could leave in the transfer window, adding: "Nobody is for sale, and everybody is for sale."

    Gallagher appeared as a late substitute in Chelsea's opening-day Premier League win over Everton last week, while Hudson-Odoi was absent from the Blues' squad at Goodison Park.

    Both players have been linked with moves away due to the competition for places at Stamford Bridge, with Hudson-Odoi a reported target for Borussia Dortmund and Gallagher widely admired after racking up eight Premier League goals and three assists on loan at Crystal Palace last term.

    While Tuchel recognises N'Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic represent stern competition for Gallagher, he wants to see him realise his undoubted promise at Chelsea.

    "Conor fights in central midfield," Tuchel said ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham. "To be honest, it is a very tough fight for him because, at the moment, it seems we only have two places in central midfield. 

    "Given the amount of players we have for central midfield, it isn't ideal, I agree. But we have to do what's best for the squad, not just for each individual player.

    "But at the moment, he is absolutely fine. I am a huge fan of Conor. He is a fantastic guy, and this is what we already knew, in the first weeks of training, he has shown how much of a step he has made through having so much playing time.

    "It is a very, very normal situation and his development is that at the moment, after some fantastic training sessions in the beginning, there is a little dip in his form and freshness. 

    "On top of that, there's a huge competition with N'Golo, Jorgi and Kova, who are used to playing with each other. 

    "This is also life in a big club like Chelsea, so everything is in its right place. We are happy with him. He keeps on fighting, and this is what he does. I think he has everything to become very important in the next years at Chelsea."

    Hudson-Odoi has been linked with a move to the Bundesliga on several occasions, having only started 32 Premier League games for Chelsea since his 2018 debut, but Tuchel is also keen to hold onto him.

    "Callum is the same. He had a long-term injury and long-term problems to overcome," Tuchel said. "I think he still has a way to go to live up to his potential. His potential is huge. 

    "I think having Raheem [Sterling] in can give him an extra boost to step up and see what's needed in these kinds of positions to reach the levels he can honestly reach. 

    "But at the moment, he is our player, and he needs to fight, fight, fight. I have nothing more to say."

    But with over two weeks remaining in the transfer window, Tuchel refused to rule out a change in the club's strategy.

    "In general, nobody is for sale,", Tuchel added. "Nobody is for sale, and everybody is for sale. 

    "It depends on what the player wants, how bad the player wants it, what we think about who is ready to pay a certain amount of money, and then maybe everybody is for sale."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.