Reports coach Eddie Jones had interviewed for the Japan job failed to penetrate the Wallabies World Cup bubble according to players who are adamant he’s committed to them and they are to him in the wake of a tournament-ending loss to Wales.
Captain Dave Porecki, vice-captain Tate McDermott and rookie five-eighth Carter Gordon were among the Wallabies who were adamant they had no idea about the reports linking Jones to Japan before the 40-6 loss in France that has ensured Australia’s worst-ever World Cup result.
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Meanwhile former captain Michael Hooper, a surprise and costly ommission from the World Cup squad, also defended the coach.
Asked post-game, McDermott said he had “no idea” about the report suggesting Jones, who signed a four-year deal to coach Australia, had done a Zoom interview with Japanese officials in August and dismissed it as a factor in the defeat to Wales.
“Mate, with the amount of media on us at the moment, I doubt anybody saw that, so I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about,” the scrum-half said.
“To answer your question, I didn’t hear anything.”
McDermott was adamant the squad was united despite losing two of three games at the World Cup, the only win, and the only win since Jones took control, coming against minnows Georgia.
“We’ve worked a lot on the connection of this group,” he said.
“It’s easy in the good times when you’re winning, we haven’t had many of them this year. It’s a resilient group but it’s not good enough in a do-or-die game.”
Gordon, who was picked by Jones as the only five-eighth in the squad and was benched for the clash with Wales after a substandard performance against Fiji, said he believed the coach was committed to the rebuild he had begun.
“As far as the players know, Eddie is committed to Rugby Australia,” he said.
“Look, we know he is committed to us and we are committed to him. I haven’t seen the article.
“I didn’t hear anything about it. This is the first I am hearing about it now.”
Questioned after the loss, Jones issued a fiery response to the accusations he’d interviewed for the Japan job.
“I take umbrage to people questioning my commitment to the Australia job,” Jones said.
“I have committed to coach Australia.”
Porecki also denied the reports impacted the team.
“No. I don’t think many of the boys were aware of anything to be honest,” he said.
“We had a good week of prep, probably our best week of prep and we didn’t turn up tonight. It’s got nothing to do with the outside noise.”
Porecki said the players were “embarrassed” by their performance that ensured the Wallabies would fail to make it out of the group stages for the first time.
“We were hoping to put a show on. It just wasn’t good enough. We’ve got to front up next week. This one hurts,” he said.
McDermott said there was no escaping the Wallabies were just not good enough.
“It’s a result we’re going to have to live with,” he said.
“We’ve not only let the people from Australia down in the crowd who supported us, but there’s heaps of (other) people out there who have supported us, back home as well. It wasn’t good enough and we’ve got to own that.
“I’m proud of this group but it’s very hard to defend the whole team for that performance.”
Gordon also said the players were the ones who dished up the poor performance and did his best to shield Jones from taking all the blame.
“It‘s on us the players, we are the ones out there,” he said.
“We are the ones playing. Eddie has done everything he can to put us in the right position to win and then it is on us to win the games.”
Axed Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper also leapt to the defence of the coach, telling Stan Sport: “A lot is going to come on Eddie, and maybe there’s some fairness in that.
“But I’ve been in the camp. No one is up for more hours than Eddie. Eddie is up until 11pm thinking about how to make the Wallabies team better, and he’s waking up at 3am answering messages.
“There’s no lack of desire from that guy to make that team the best it can be. People will come under fire – players first, coaches, coaches staff, the greater wider rugby community – but let’s pull the breaks off Eddie.”
He added: “Players, coaches, they’re putting their nuts on the line … Let’s not have a crack at the bloke.”
“Let’s not have a crack at the bloke.”
But another axed player – five-eighth Bernard Foley – appeared to whack Jones when he tweeted: “It didn’t have to be like this.
“Players have always put in.”
The Wallabies will play their final World Cup match against Portugal.
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au