'I don't care about England', insists former head coach Jones

‘There’s no emotional attachment to that team any more’: Eddie Jones says it only took a couple of weeks to get over his shock England sacking… as former head coach returns to Twickenham with the Barbarians

  • Jones says it only took a couple of weeks to get over his sacking by England 
  • The Australian was head-hunted for a second stint as Wallabies coach
  • He is preparing for a Twickenham comeback as Barbarians coach on Sunday 

Eddie Jones is fired up for a return to Twickenham, but six months on from his shock sacking by the RFU, he has banished any trace of sentiment towards England.

The former England head coach is in London with the Barbarians, preparing for a high-profile exhibition match against Steve Hansen’s World XV on Sunday. 

It will take him back to the stadium where he was lord and master for seven years, but Jones — now at the Australia helm again — has emotionally detached from the England team.

‘I’ve been lucky enough to coach internationally and I love the team I’m coaching, but then when I move I don’t have any regrets, any bad feelings,’ he said. ‘I want that team to do OK, but there’s no emotional attachment to that team any more.

‘They are just one team in the Six Nations. I watch them and I think about — like all the teams — how I would coach them if I had that team. Then if we come up against them, I’ve already got something in my head.’

Eddie Jones says it only took a couple of weeks to get over his shock sacking by England

The former head coach has banished any trace of sentiment towards England

Moving on was a swift process after his RFU sacking. Jones claimed it took just two or three weeks to come to terms with what had happened and look ahead to the next project — as he was head-hunted for a dramatic return to his home country, for a second Wallabies stint.

‘Post England, I knew there were possibilities,’ he said. ‘There was always going to be a job.’

The prospect of Sunday’s appointment at Twickenham is one which enthuses him. There will be no sense of unease about returning to the scene of so many triumphs, which became a place of pain in the latter stages of his England tenure.

‘I loved my time here and I’m looking forward to it,’ said Jones. ‘The sun is shining. It will be unbelievable. I don’t hold any grudges. I have moved on. If they have not moved on, that’s their problem, not my problem.’

Jones is known for mischievously indulging in mind-games, but on this visit he is in diplomatic mode. He had ample opportunities to score points at the expense of his former employers, but he trod carefully. While he admitted that there was not much dialogue with his long-time assistant-turned-successor, Steve Borthwick — ‘it’s dried up a bit’ — he avoided passing judgment on his new regime.

However, there were some remarks which might serve as a back-handed warning about England’s hopes of World Cup success. 

Jones is preparing for a Twickenham comeback as Barbarians coach on Sunday

First, Jones explained why he had promoted Marcus Smith to expand the national team’s attacking repertoire, saying: ‘He is a Richie Mo’unga-type player (the All Blacks fly-half), who will take a long time to mature. That’s the reality, but is he worth maturing? I thought he was, but it’s up to other people to judge.’

Borthwick is expected to favour Owen Farrell, George Ford and pragmatism over Smith and flair, going into the World Cup this autumn. 

And when Jones was asked about Borthwick’s claim that he inherited a team not performing well in any area, he added, pointedly: ‘It is true. We were trying to build a team to win the World Cup. I don’t believe you’re going to be able to win the World Cup by just kicking.

‘I may be proven wrong but I think with the grounds as they are, you are going to need to play more positive rugby, because of the conditions and speed of the ruck ball. The interesting thing watching South Africa in November is that they started running a lot more from kick-return and it opened up for their outside backs. I think that’s the trend of the game. You have to go quickly. You can’t just play slowly.’

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