There is growing speculation over Eddie Jones’ future as Wallabies coach, with claims he was secretly interviewed by Japanese rugby officials before the start of the Rugby World Cup.
A report from The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday claimed that Jones is considering leaving his post as Wallabies coach to instead return to Japan as the national team’s head coach.
The report claims Jones has been “actively involved in the process” to find a replacement for Jamie Joseph, who announced back in July that he would be stepping down as Japan’s head coach after the World Cup.
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Jones is said to have applied for the role and participated in an online Zoom interview with Japanese rugby officials on August 25, according to the report.
That is despite Jones being in Paris with the Wallabies at the time, just two days before their World Cup warm-up game against France.
A report from News Corp on Sunday also claimed Jones has an “open-ended offer to return to Japan”.
Unlike the report from The Herald, News Corp claims Jones “has no intention” of returning to Japan as he is “committed” to rebuilding the Wallabies.
Assistant coach Jason Ryles told reporters it “would be a bit of a surprise” if Jones walked away.
“To walk away from that would be a bit of a surprise, because there is a lot of green shoots there for the future,” he said.
“But I am not too sure what he will do to be honest with you. It’s good to have options, by the sounds of it.”
Jones is contracted with the Wallabies through to the next tournament in Australia in 2027.
The latest development comes after Yahoo in Japan published a report earlier in the month claiming Jones was “negotiating” with JRFU officials, although it added he was unlikely to be appointed to the role at that point.
A defiant Jones told The Sydney Morning Herald via a Wallabies spokesperson at the time that the report was “bulls*** and gossip”.
Jones was quizzed about his immediate future on Saturday, but more in the context of whether he would in fact be fired given Australia’s poor results so far at the World Cup.
“At the end of the World Cup, there will be a review and given the results we’ve had then maybe Australian rugby doesn’t want to keep me, that’s the reality of the job I live in, and I understand that,” Jones said.
“Sometimes you’ve got to make some hard decisions to get the results further down the track, and I’ve got no doubt we’ll win on Sunday.”
Jones fronted the media ahead of Monday’s game against Wales and was adamant his decision to bring over a young and inexperienced group to the World Cup was the right one.
“I’ve let Australian rugby down, mate, I haven’t done the job I was brought in to do. I was brought in to turn it around so I feel that responsibility,” he told reporters, with a hint of sarcasm.
“I think I’m 100 percent doing the right thing for Australian rugby, and I apologise for the results,” added Jones.
“If we’re falling short, that’s OK. I’d rather aim up there and not reach it.
“But we’re trying to create a team that creates dreams for Australian rugby. We’re not trying to be a mediocre team.”
Jones and the Wallabies must rebound from a last-start defeat to Fiji to avoid a first ever World Cup exit before the knockout rounds.
The decision to not include veterans Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper in his World Cup squad was met with criticism from former Australian internationals Drew Mitchell and David Campese.
Jones again stressed he is building a team with “the future of Australian rugby”, although that defence would not hold much weight should he take over as Japan’s head coach.
“Those guys have been around, the results over the last period of time haven’t been at the level where they need to be,” he said.
“Our results are even worse but sometimes you have to do that to go forward. And we need to create a new group of players that have high standards of training, high standards of behaviour, high standards of expectation. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
“I don’t think waiting is the right answer, because you need to start building a team. To win a World Cup, I reckon it takes six years.
“You look at most teams, it’s groups of young players that start together. They might win the under-20s (World Cup) together, then they have one or two years where they have a tough time, and then they mature into a good team.”
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au