How Eddie Jones is already winning rugby union's stoush with the NRL

The newly-appointed Wallabies coach is taking on Peter V'landys and rugby league.

Eddie Jones, pictured here alongside Peter V'landys.
Eddie Jones has started a war with the NRL and Peter V'landys. Image: Getty

They reckon it's worse to be ignored than to be hated. Rugby union people should know better than most.

For the best part of the last decade or so, rugby league has pretty much cold-shouldered rugby union in this country. The AFL is league's natural predator while rugby is the mosquito in your ear at night, slightly irritating but no real threat and easy to extinguish.

But the mosquito is now a wasp. It took less than 48 hours but already Eddie Jones has taken on rugby league and thrown the code's first decent punch for what seems forever.

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Instead of running away from a fight, Jones has run towards one by boldly outlining his desire to loosen league's clutches on major rugby talent and lure the best back to the game from the NRL. We're talking a real blue-chip player in Joseph Suaalii for starters, along with Manly speed sensation Tolu Koula and Parramatta's Will Penisini for starters.

Kalyn Ponga, Pat Carrigan and Cameron Murray are others who might be tapped heading into 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia. Some of it or none of it might eventuate, but that's not really the point.

Joseph Suaalii, pictured here in action for Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup.
Joseph Suaalii in action for Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Peter V’landys responds to Eddie Jones move

In making his statement of intent, Jones has engaged Peter V’landys in hand-to-hand combat, attracting back page coverage and stirring up the passions of both sets of fans. Jones will make it impossible to ignore rugby and V'Landys has walked into his trap before the newly appointed Wallabies coach has even touched down in Australia to begin what will be a wild five-year ride.

"I’m not concerned because why would you want to leave the greatest game of all for another game?” V’landys told AAP when asked if he was concerned about NRL players jumping ship to rugby. "There is more to it than money. There is also enjoyment and the quality. We’ve got the greatest game of all - people will always want to play the greatest game of all."

And then came the half narky put down, referencing the stop-start nature of the 15-man game. "(Any player who leaves league for union) can take their mobile phone with them on the field because they’ve got 20 minutes to tweet, Instagram or TikTok," V'landys continued.

“We wish Eddie the best of luck, and I hope he’s got his mobile phone with him so he can fill that 30 minutes as well." There will be no ignoring rugby with E Jones back at the helm.

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