‘I’m in charge!’: Eddie Jones comes out fighting as he defends his position as England head coach after it was revealed ‘external rugby experts’ would scrutinise his work following the RFU’s Six Nations inquest
- Jones moved to re-assert his authority as the man in charge of England team
- He faced criticism and pressure as a result of three championship defeats
- There was criticism over his coaching role with All Black playmaker Barrett
- Jones will name a revamped squad for USA and Canada Tests next week
Eddie Jones on Wednesday moved to re-assert his authority as the man in charge of the England team, after appearing to have his wings clipped following the RFU’s Six Nations inquest.
The national team’s fifth-place finish prompted a forensic post-mortem by the union and while Jones was backed to stay in his post until the next World Cup, it was revealed that he would be subjected to regular reviews by ‘external rugby experts’.
However, speaking for the first time about the new, heightened level of accountability and scrutiny, the 61-year-old dismissed any notion that his position of command has been diminished.
Eddie Jones has moved to re-assert his authority as the man in charge of the England team
‘There’s only one head coach,’ he said, firmly. ‘At the end of the day, whether the team wins or loses, the responsibility is mine. I use a series of experts in and outside the game to come up with the best coaching environment. I welcome any good advice, I welcome any wisdom I can get – that’s no different than it’s ever been.
‘But I’m the head coach. The head coach makes the decision. I welcome them in. I’ve had Brian Ashton in. I’ve had coffee with Clive Woodward – when he’s spoken to me. I encourage coaches to come in. I want to pick their brains. There are a lot smarter coaches out there than me.’
Jones has endured a bruising time of late – not that it showed in his typically up-beat demeanour. First, he faced criticism and pressure as a result of England’s three championship defeats, against Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Jones and the RFU defended his consultancy role with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath
Then there was further criticism when it emerged that he had been providing hands-on coaching to All Black playmaker Beauden Barrett, as part of his consultancy role with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.
The RFU backed him again – emphasising the long-standing nature of that side-line role. On Wednesday, Jones rejected any suggestion of a conflict of interest, saying: ‘I’m a coach; I’ve got to practise coaching. For 25 years, I’ve actually used my holidays to practise coaching because I love it.
‘I get the opportunity to do a little bit of work with Suntory – a little bit of work with some of the best players in the world. That’s something I’ve done for 25 years. I go round clubs continually to try and pick people’s brains. You share some information with them. It’s very useful.’
Next week, Jones will name a revamped England squad for Tests against the USA and Canada at Twickenham – minus the leading lights on Lions duty and several senior players who will be rested.
New Zealand star Beauden Barrett revealed he has worked with Jones directly in Japan
Bristol prop Kyle Sinckler is not in either category. Having been overlooked by Warren Gatland, he is destined to play for his country and he might even be in contention to serve as stand-in captain.
‘At this stage, Sinks will definitely be involved, because he wants to keep playing rugby and he’s going to be an important guy for us,’ said Jones.
‘Both Ellis (Genge) and Sinks are going through a maturation stage of their careers. They came in as angry guys, but they’re now maturing into really aggressive, consistent players.
‘I particularly like their response to their (Lions) non-selection by playing better rugby. What we want is for them to not need non-selection as a stimulus to play better rugby.’
Bristol prop Kyle Sinckler is in contention to serve as stand-in captain this summer
Asked whether Sinckler might deputise for the absent Red Rose captain, Owen Farrell, Jones added: ‘That’s a question we have to look at once we finalise the squad.’
One man who won’t make it into the next England squad is Wasps back Paolo Odogwu, as the club confirmed that he has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and faces a long spell out of action.
‘This is a heart-breaking end to probably the best season of my life,’ said the 24-year-old, who was picked in the Six Nations squad but has yet to make his Test debut.
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