HomeAustraliaSpin or warning? What England coach’s spray means for Eddie’s Wallabies

Spin or warning? What England coach’s spray means for Eddie’s Wallabies

It was an awkward read all the same, coming a couple of days after Jones once again sung Borthwick’s praises as a “good fella, good coach, very serious about winning” on his new podcast, Eddie. He has thrown superlatives Borthwick’s way ever since his former second-in-command took over from him at the RFU.

Jones is bloody-minded enough to appreciate the play. He probably sees it as a satisfyingly ruthless flourish on the project he started when he recruited Borthwick to Saracens, as a relentlessly committed second rower, then introduced to coaching with Japan.

For old time’s sake? Stephen Larkham, centre, and Eddie Jones, with George Gregan .Credit:Melissa Adams

But Borthwick’s comments do ramp up the pressure on Jones in his new job.

He left England as its most successful coach on win percentage and an undisputed great of the English game – as hard as it was for many to admit. But it is also true that England were never the same team after Borthwick and attack coach Scott Wisemantel left Jones’s set-up. England did not keep pace with the game’s trendsetters in Ireland and France. Jones cycled through a number of assistants but couldn’t replicate the might and power that produced one of the closest things to a perfect Test in England’s semi-final win over New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup.

He has arrived in Australia with a rebuild job ahead. Not in the playing stocks – Dave Rennie can be credited for blooding a generation that Jones, all going well, should have the pleasure of turning into a world-class outfit.

But he has also inherited a skeleton staff, including no attack coach, no defence coach and no cohesive athletic performance team, with seven months until the World Cup. They are positions that are not hard to fill, but they are very hard to fill with the best quality, especially at this late hour in international rugby’s four-year cycle.

Dan McKellar is staying with Australia for now.

Dan McKellar is staying with Australia for now.Credit:Getty

Dan McKellar is staying put, at least, a win for Jones given McKellar is the most senior Wallabies assistant and did much of the day-to-day co-ordination of schedules and training sessions. It is widely expected he will mine rugby league for a defence coach, with Michael Maguire still the name on everyone’s lips.

Where he will find an attack coach is anybody’s guess. Wisemantel will not come back. Could Jones convince Stephen Larkham to double up this year with the Brumbies and Wallabies, to help an old mate – and his old team – over the line?


Larkham has just arrived back from Munster and was probably looking forward to the predictable rhythm of Super Rugby. He’s been a Wallabies assistant once before and that didn’t end well, although backline players of that era said Bernie’s brains were behind the relative success of Australia’s 2015 World Cup campaign.

Jones will need a foil for himself and McKellar, two known hard nuts of the game. It is a tricky balance to strike and one Jones is keenly aware of after one of the longest and most successful careers in the game.

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