Beware Eddie! Bryan Habana warns South Africa could face the wrath of former assistant coach Eddie Jones against England at Twickenham
- Bryan Habana has warned South Africa to be wary of Eddie Jones on Saturday
- Jones’ beleaguered England face the Springboks at Twickenham this weekend
- The Australian finds himself under pressure after a poor Six Nations campaign
- But Habana is wary of a backlash from former Springboks assistant coach Jones
Bryan Habana believes South Africa could face the wrath of their former assistant coach when they take on England at Twickenham on Saturday.
A series of disastrous results has left Eddie Jones with a point to prove ahead of the autumn internationals, with a run of five defeats in six matches a real concern ahead of a World Cup year.
Two of those defeats were inflicted by the Springboks during their summer tour, and a string of injuries to key players has made the task of bouncing back against the same opponent at the first attempt even tougher.
Bryan Habana has warned South Africa to be wary of Eddie Jones (pictured) on Saturday
Habana (pictured) is wary of a backlash from former Springboks assistant coach Jones
Jones admitted as much before the clash, noting that the absence of players such as Billy and Mako Vunipola, paired with the losses of Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes, has seen him deprived of 400-caps worth of experience.
Despite the pressure on his shoulders, however, Habana knows his former mentor is more than capable of handling every challenge thrown at him in order to get England firing again.
‘Eddie can handle it really well,’ said the 35-year-old. ‘He doesn’t change his thinking.
‘People see how he acts and he is what he is. We know how he says things and what he does.
‘I think as a rugby person he’s driven on getting results and he’ll be unbelievably disappointed where England have been over the last eight or so months.
‘He’ll be the first one wanting to turn the ship around, so I’m a little bit worried on how South Africa might go against England because he’ll be revving the guys up to get back on track.’
Jones (c) was assistant to Jake White (l) when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 2007
Habana is well acquainted with the Australian’s ability to get the best out of his squad.
Jones was number two to Jake White when South Africa lifted the World Cup in France in 2007.
It was the tournament that saw the winger announce himself on the international stage, equalling Jonah Lomu’s record for most tries in a tournament on his way to being crowned the IRB Player of the Year.
And he credits a great deal of that success to the 58-year-old’s attention to detail.
‘He wasn’t in a hands on role,’ said the former Toulon star, ‘so he could take a back seat and allow his technical prowess, which is probably one of the best that I’ve ever worked with from a coaching point of view, just take to the fore.
‘Eddie was really good in making changes that allowed us as a backline to develop and improve and he played a massive part in fine-tuning and honing our skills building up to that World Cup in 2007.
The pair enjoyed enormous success, and Habana now expects a backlash from Jones
‘He was hands on with players. He was good like that. He wasn’t there in a head coach capacity so he could just put his own emphasis and thoughts on what needed to happen.’ For all the improvement there may well be with England, South Africa’s own renaissance cannot be ignored.
They backed up their 2-1 series victory in the summer with an historic win against New Zealand in Wellington and Habana, who is working with Channel 4 as part of their rugby coverage this year, believes there is real headway being made by a nation that has stalled in recent years.
‘That result in Wellington definitely made a lot of people eat humble pie,’ he said.
‘But I think the bigger thing has been the progress made by this very young South African side. It’s been really good and it makes one really proud to be a South African again.’ While England may have their injury woes in the pack, the depth in the backs has left no room in the team for Habana’s former Toulon team-mate Chris Ashton.
Short of game time following a seven-week suspension following his move to Sale, the winger has been left out, with Jack Nowell preferred and Manu Tuilagi taking up his place among the replacements.
Habana also backed recalled England wing Chris Ashton (pictured) to make an impression
Despite the setback though, the 31-year-old has been backed to seize his opportunity when it comes.
‘Having seen Chris, his work ethic and his drive to wear that England jersey again, it makes you understand the decision that he took to take up an offer to go to Sale and give himself every opportunity to be a part of that World Cup squad,’ said the South African.
‘I personally think Jonny May played fantastically well during that June series and probably cemented that No 14 jersey.
‘There’s a possibility that the no 11 jersey is up for grabs and Chris will want to be one of those guys who is putting his hands up.’
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