Eddie Jones looking to unearth Cheslin Kolbe-esque stars in Japan

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Springboks star Cheslin Kolbe and Japan head coach Eddie Jones.

Split with Springboks star Cheslin Kolbe and Japan head coach Eddie Jones.

Veteran coach Eddie Jones believes there are stars with the same profile as Cheslin Kolbe in Japan; he just needs to find them.

Jones begins his role as head coach of Japan at the beginning of 2024 in his second stint in charge of the Brave Blossoms. He will have fond memories of his first tenure with the side as he led them to their most famous win as they beat the Springboks in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Next up for the Australian-born coach was the head coach role for England which he stayed in for seven years in a period where the team won three Six Nations, one of which was a Grand Slam.

Jones decided to return to Australia and coach the Wallabies again at the beginning of the year which went pear-shaped as he only managed two wins as his team got kicked out of the World Cup at the pool stages for the first time.

Return to Japan

There was a growing controversy that Jones took an interview for the Japan role just before the tournament in France, allegations which he denied several times. It turns out that Jones returned to the Brave Blossoms in the end.

Also making the move to Japan recently is Kolbe, who signed for Suntory Sungoliath, and Jones believes the attributes of the double World Cup winner could well be found in Japanese players.

“He’s as strong as an ox, he’s as fast as a cheetah, and he’s as elusive as a ninja – that’s how Japanese players can be,” he said.

“He’s a fantastic example, so what we want to find is players who can be like him, and they’re out there.”


One of the biggest focal points for the experienced coach is to build a strong identity within the team.

“Any great team in any sport, it doesn’t matter what shirt they play in, you can clearly see the team that they are.”

“I think we need to develop that with Japan, so that’s going to be one of the major focuses going forward.”

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