Jones ready to shake England up

Date published: November 30 2015

England's World Cup hangover seemed to ease a little on Friday after Eddie Jones outlined his hopes and plans for the next four years.

The big name with that level of international experience England craved will pull no punches if doesn't like something he sees. He will also get the best out of a young, talented squad. But they'll be made to work for it.

Japan's players, rumour has it, called Jones "the devil" because of the rigorous sessions he put them through. None of the Brave Blossoms though were complaining after three wins in the World Cup group stages.

"Look, I am direct when I need to be direct. I can be soft as well. I have learnt to be soft as I got older. When you are young as a coach you are never too soft. I have learnt that," Jones said.

"I want to be honest with the players. The players have to understand when I am talking to them the only reason I am talking to them is to improve them as players. That is the only reason. I will work out who I need to be hard with and who I need to be soft with. I don't see that as being a problem."

Those ruffled by the appointment of a foreign coach will no doubt lower their pitchforks after hearing Jones insist that his role is as much to bring success back to English rugby as it is to develop an E successor for 2019.

"I see it as part of my job in the four years is to develop England coaches to take over. Everyone wants to have their own nationalities as a head coach, I understand that. But I have a job to do now to take England forward and develop some England coaches. I can do that," Jones said.

"I’ve got to pick the right staff. Ian and I have had good discussions on it. There are enough good English coaches there to be pick from. I don’t need to go outside England to do that, generally speaking. That’s what we’ll be aiming to do.

"I’ve got to appraise the coaches who are in place first. Then I’ll work out if we need to make changes. If we need to make changes, I’ll make changes."

England's players, if they want to remain England players, will have to buy into the style and plans laid out by Jones given that he views establishing an identity for the national side is paramount. 

"It happens in every other team in the world. With the New Zealand franchises in Super Rugby, they all play differently. The Highlanders play differently to the Chiefs. Everyone thinks they play the same way, but they don’t. In Australia, you have teams so far apart in terms of the way they play," Jones stated.

"It’s the ability, when you get to the national team, to understand: this is the way the national team plays, and if you want to play for the national team, you play this way. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done at your club.

"One of the things I might do when they first come into camp is get them to wear their club colours, get them to understand that that is finished, when they get to the national team, they’ve got to take that off. If you want to wear that jersey underneath your England jersey, you can’t play for England. You’ve got to think like an English player.

That doesn’t mean when they play for Sarries or for Harlequins or for Wasps that their style of play is wrong, because it’s right for that club. It happens in every other country in the world. I don’t see it as a massive problem."

Which all sounds as though Jones has a lot of work to do. He won't be returning to South Africa, with the next ten days spent first in Los Angeles for a commitment with World Rugby before returning to Tokyo to see his wife and to pack before beginning on December 1.

One thing Jones won't be doing, for now at least, is knocking on chief executive Ian Ritchie's door to complain about the overseas players rule even though he admitted half-jokingly that the two may bang heads at times.

"As far as I know here are only four English players playing overseas. The rule is if you want to play for England you play in the Premiership. And the rule’s there for a reason," he explained.

"It’s because the Premiership in England’s important and we want to have a good relationship going forward to build up the England national team. If guys decide to play overseas they’ve given up the right to play for England. The exceptional circumstance rule is still there if we need it to be in place. I’m happy with the way it is now."

England's time under Jones whether successful or not is unlikely to be boring. Having achieved so much with fewer resources in charge of Japan, expectations are naturally high. 

by Ben Coles