Maligned Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has taken an extraordinary stance to defend his omission of Michael Hooper from the World Cup squad and claimed he was not the right role model to lead the team. Jones has copped plenty of criticism since the Wallabies were eliminated at the group stage of the Rugby World Cup for the first time in history.
Sonny Bill Williams has been a vocal critic of Jones' decision to leave out the experience of Hooper and Quade Cooper from the squad with the Wallabies humiliated in their worst ever World Cup campaign. Jones has been at the centre of reports he is leaving for Japan rugby, but recently dismissed the claims in a heated press conference.
'GET ON THE PHONE': Wallabies great lashes out over Eddie Jones storm
However, Jones won't win over any more fans having made the sensational claim Hooper wasn't the right role model for the team at the World Cup. Hooper was the big omission from the squad with the 125-game veteran making it clear he wanted to help lead the team in France.
And Jones has revealed he didn't feel like the squad needed Hooper's leadership because it wasn't the right fit. He compared the situation to Wayne Bennett letting NRL icon Wally Lewis go during his tenure as coach.
“The situation reminded me of when Wayne Bennett let Wally Lewis go. No-one could quite understand why, but Wally Lewis wasn’t a great role model for the rest of the team. And for those guys, I don’t think they were the right role models for the team going forward," Jones said to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Don’t get me wrong. They’re not bad guys. But you need guys – particularly when you’ve got a team like Australia has at the moment – you need guys who are obsessed with winning, obsessed with being good, and those three are past those stages.”
When questioned on his comments about Hooper, Jones said he '100 per cent' stood by his claim with the timing not right for the former captain.
Sonny Bill Williams calls out Eddie Jones' selections
During the tournament after Australia lost to Fiji, All Blacks great Williams took aim at Jones for leaving Hooper at home. "I feel for these boys, for the fans. I'm going to keep it real on here. They were up against it right from the start. Questions need to be asked from selections, to the mind games that Eddie Jones has been playing with these kids, these guys. There is a guy in the studio back home who should be here right now," Williams said of Hooper, who wasn't selected for the World Cup.
Jones' comments come as Hooper is expected to link up with the coach when they unite for the Barbarians clash with Wales on November 4. Hooper will link up with fellow Aussies Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Angus Bell and Rob Valentini.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.