Australia legend George Gregan has praised the “courage” of England head coach Eddie Jones ahead of the two teams’ upcoming Test series.
The former Wallabies scrum-half played under Jones for the Brumbies and country in his career and backs him to turn around England’s poor form.
On Saturday in Perth the teams face off in their first of three Tests in July and Gregan lavished superlatives on Jones as Australia await for the English.
“I loved playing with Eddie, he was a great coach,” Gregan explained.
“He’s a person who is prepared and has the courage to do things differently – not necessarily follow the norm and whatever the trend is in terms of the way the game’s being played, that takes courage.
“But it also takes a lot of convincing of the group and the people around you to go in that direction, which he does.
“He’s incredibly thorough and meticulous in his planning. What he also does is really empower his team to take ownership of what they do on the field and I think that’s a sign of a really, really good coach, hence he’s had success pretty much everywhere he’s coached.
“Eddie is very good under pressure in terms of identifying what needs to be done and really putting in place a focused plan and getting people to buy into it and working hard towards that.
“It can be a lonely place being a head coach, I think in all sports, it’s not easy.
“He will try to do things a little bit different just to get that little edge and create the best possible environment for his players and coaches to perform. That to me is Eddie in a nutshell.”
After the game in Perth next weekend, Australia and England will face off in Brisbane and then Sydney on successive Saturdays with plenty on the line.
Despite their dismal form of late, Jones and England can take confidence from their recent record against Australia as they are on an eight-game streak.
On their last tour to Australia, England won the series 3-0, but former scrum-half Gregan is not expecting the same result when they square off in 2022.
“I wouldn’t have predicted that in 2016, the Wallabies had been in the World Cup final against the All Blacks, were the form team and then they get beaten 3-0,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be a really tight series; I think that series was pretty tight too, except for maybe the last Test match – they were all narrow margins and this could follow in the same suit.
“The margins get smaller and smaller in international sport. I think the series is going to be fiercely contested and I can’t see either England or Australia winning 3-0.”
“England-Australia, it doesn’t matter what sport it is, it could be road cycling, netball, golf, cricket, you name it, there is a rich rivalry there and you want to be on the right side of that,” Gregan added on the sporting rivalry between the countries.
“There is always a lot of banter and talk before these types of games and a big build-up and rightly so.
“For us, I’m going back a long time, England were a very, very good team and you always wanted to gauge yourself against them, you wanted to win.
“It’s a rivalry which is always going to be there and long may it continue. We certainly haven’t had the bragging rights for a long time.”