Front row: Eddie Jones poses with Steve Borthwick (England Forwards Coach) and Paul Gustard (England Defence Coach.) Photo: Getty Images A “brilliant but mad” Eddie Jones will have his work cut out winning over the England squad with his ruthless style, according to one of the Australian’s former backroom staff with Japan.
Jones will take charge of the entire squad for the first time on Monday when England ramp up preparations for the Six Nations, but Welshman Leigh Jones is wavering on whether he will receive the same backing he had from Japan’s unheralded squad.
“It will be an interesting challenge – he drove the Japan players harder than I’ve ever seen a group of players driven before. I almost questioned Eddie at times if he was pushing them too hard,” he told the South China Morning Post after returning as Hong Kong’s head of high performance following last year’s World Cup.
“He’s going to need buy-in and I’m not sure western players have the same work ethic. He’d expect that work ethic – whether he gets it or not remains to be seen.
“If he does get that buy-in from the players, England will be a real force to be reckoned with. If he doesn’t then it’s a whole different story, so it’s kind of watch-this-space for me to see if he does get the backing of the players.”
Eddie Jones took over from Stuart Lancaster after England’s disastrous World Cup on home soil – which included elimination at the hands of Australia as they failed to progress past the group stage.
Ironically, it was the same overall result Jones achieved with Japan, whose campaign was seen as a resounding success after they recorded the shock of the tournament in beating South Africa.
Leigh Jones said the head coach sat his backroom staff down later that night and demanded a solution to what he perceived as a flaw in Japan’s game in time for their next clash against Scotland despite producing arguably the greatest shock in World Cup history.
“You can imagine the avalanche of euphoria,” said Jones. “But after the win we were sat in a meeting at 10.30pm discussing critically why one aspect of our game hadn’t worked particularly well and making sure we put it right for four days’ time against Scotland.
“I talked to Eddie afterwards and said, ‘What was that about? That’s a bit of overkill’. He said, ‘Mate, I had to get you boys back on the floor, because if I don’t get you on the floor, you’ll never get the players on the floor’.
“He’s workaholic, probably gets by on four or five hours’ sleep a day, and he expects his staff to do the same. I’d never worked so hard since I left industry 20 years ago. We would start at six in the morning and be pretty much full-on until eight, nine, 10 at night. But it was so informative working for a guy of that calibre.”