Here’s a line I never thought I’d be writing at any stage this year – good on you, Rugby Australia. The decision to shaft Dave Rennie and install Eddie Jones is a ballsy move and a big step in the right direction for a code on its knees.
It’s the boldest step by an Australian sporting organisation since Football Australia sacked Frank Farina and put Guus Hiddink in charge of the Socceroos just months out from the 2006 World Cup. The Wallabies were going nowhere under Rennie and would’ve been making up the numbers at this year's World Cup in France.
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Now they’re some hope of winning the whole thing, as ridiculous as that may sound to anyone who has watched this team on Rennie's watch. Test after Test we had to sit through mistake after mistake from the same players without a hint that the dramatic improvement the coach promised was just around the corner.
Some of the decision-making and ill-discipline would not have been tolerated at third grade Subbies level, let alone in a Test arena. Jones insists he is a cooler cat after years at the England helm than he was in his first stint as Wallabies coach.
There are no more eruptions, he insists. Maybe so. But they once said the same thing about Mount Vesuvius.
Eddie Jones to lead Wallabies at World Cup in France
Under Jones, any drop in standards simply won’t be tolerated. He won't abide sloppiness in games, on the training paddock, at team meetings, in the gym or even over a coffee.
He will ruffle plenty of feathers but who cares? The Wallabies are need of some tough love and need to hear some harsh home truths.
Some are plainly not up to it and Jones will quietly show them the door. That's the way it should be in a World Cup year.
Only the ruthless survive. Get off the bus if you don’t want to buy in. Rugby Australia has also bought itself a born spruiker.
Jones’ appointment guarantees them miles of coverage, not only leading into this year's World Cup but into the 2027 event on home soil. The former Randwick hooker is a walking headline who knows how to work the media to his advantage.
Every Jones press conference is an event, with the 62-year-old happy to drop in a throwaway line to ensure his team – and the sport itself - is front and centre.
He will bring excitement back to a code which has been dead on its feet for far too long.
Hell, the Jones return is a risk. But what a ride we're all in for.
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