Wallabies legend in big Eddie Jones call amid 'disappointing' drama

The under pressure Wallabies coach has been linked with a bombshell defection to Japan.

Pictured right is Wallabies legend Mark Ella and under-fire coach Eddie Jones on left.
Wallabies legend Mark Ella (right) says under-fire coach Eddie Jones is still the right man to lead Australia. Pic: Getty

Wallabies great Mark Ella says Eddie Jones is still the right man to turn around the side's fortunes, despite reports the veteran mentor could be set to walk away from Rugby Australia to take up the head coaching role at Japan. Jones repeated that he was "committed to Australia" after a brief chat with reporters when he flew back into Sydney last week, but is expected to front a press conference on Tuesday to elaborate on his future.

Jones has previously refuted reports that he interviewed for the Japan job before Australia's disastrous World Cup campaign that saw the Wallabies fail to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time in history. Following that shambolic campaign for the Wallabies though, a fresh report came out of Japan claiming Jones was the frontrunner to replace Jamie Joseph as coach of the Brave Blossoms.

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“It’s disappointing, that’s for sure, and I’m sad to see what’s happening with Eddie,” Ella said about his good friend after being elevated to legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. "He came here to be the saviour of Australian rugby, but that’s not what’s happening. I hope that he’ll get his act together and stay in Australia.”

Jones is less than one year into a long-term deal that is supposed to see him lead the Wallabies into the 2027 World Cup on home soil. The former England coach was brought in to replace Dave Rennie after the New Zealander was sacked as Wallabies coach, but his massive overhaul of the Australian rugby squad and emphasis on youth has so far been a disaster.

Wallabies legend says Eddie Jones 'needs to stay'

“He only had five or six months this time to change Australian rugby before the World Cup and it obviously didn’t work, but he’s got to start again because he’s now got four years to actually get these guys back into shape and restructure the game and how we’re going to play,” former Wallabies captain Ella said. "He needs to stay here so he can build us up from where we are because where we are right now is basically nowhere.

“We’ve got to start again and I hope Eddie is the person who makes Australian rugby successful again. I’m sad to see what’s happening with him because he’s a good guy who hasn’t had a lot of time, so he made some big changes and picked a lot of younger guys.

“It’s clear that he was thinking ahead a few more years. We can be much better (if he stays), but it’s a decision that he’s got to make.”

Seen here, Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.
Eddie Jones has denied fresh reports that he's set to walk away from the Wallabies to take up a coaching job with Japan. Pic: Getty

Eddie Jones linked with sensational return to Japan

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh backed Jones during the current World Cup tournament and said trusted assertions from the coach that he'd never held discussions about taking over Japan. Jones also took aim at the media after being questioned about the reports during the Wallabies' ill-fated campaign in France.

Jones famously guided Japan to three victories at the 2015 World Cup, including a stunning upset win over the powerful Springboks, and remains popular among key Japanese rugby figures. The Japan Rugby Football Union says thorough knowledge of the country and extensive connections with overseas countries will be the key factors in selecting a new coach - two areas where Jones has strong credentials.

"We will make a decision promptly. We need to have a system that aims to win the World Cup," Japan Rugby executive director Kensuke Iwabuchi said recently. That came after a report from Japan's Sponichi publication that "contract negotiations have been held privately behind the scenes and preparations are under way for his (Jones) first return since the 2015 World Cup, at which he led them to a historic three wins.”

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