INTERVIEW: Eddie Jones wants to spark a revival of interest in the Wallabies by getting the team to play in the “Australian way” again.
No sooner had Jones been sacked as England coach in December, following a seven-year spell, than he was appointed for a second stint as coach of his native Australia.
The 63-year-old took over with the Australian game at a low ebb after Kiwi predecessor Dave Rennie was sacked following a poor win rate of only 38 percent.
Jones, renowned for his headline-grabbing comments, has already raised the profile of the Wallabies ahead of his first game back away to South Africa in the Rugby Championship on July 8.
“When the opportunity came [with Australia] I jumped at it because rugby is in a fairly dark place and needs a bit of energy, needs a bit of direction,” he said in London on Wednesday.
Jones, taking time out to coach the Barbarians against a World XV at Twickenham on Sunday, added: “I can only do my bit coaching the national team but obviously I can do a job selling the game there, which I have taken on, so I am enjoying it.”
Rugby Australia has grabbed attention back home by signing rising star Joseph Sua’alii from Rugby League side the Sydney Roosters.
The 19-year-old will switch codes at the end of the 2024 season.
“We definitely bought a rugby league player to get back in the shop window,” said Jones, who led Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, where they were beaten by England.
“That is 100 percent true and now people are talking about rugby again.”
Australia, seventh in the global standings, are not among the favourites for this year’s World Cup but Jones was adamant he had enough time to turn their fortunes around between now and the start of the showpiece tournament in September.
“We need to work a bit harder to create a style of rugby that is quintessentially Australian,” he said. “We have been copying other teams and that is not the Australian way.”
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He added: “It is more about intent. Australians, in whichever sport they play, are much better when they are aggressive, when they are positive, when they are in the face of the opposition.
“When we are doing it our way, we are at the opposition with numbers at the line in attack and defence like mongrel dogs running around and that is where we are at our best. So it is more about intent.”
The much-travelled Jones, who also had a spell as Japan coach, insisted he had no hard feelings over his England exit after taking them all the way to a 2019 World Cup final, where they were beaten by the Springboks.
“I’ve been lucky enough to coach internationally, and when you go to a team I love the team I’m coaching, but then when I move then I don’t have any regrets, any bad feelings. There’s no emotional attachment to that team any more.”