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Rugby Australia is confident Eddie Jones will see out his five-year contract despite the Wallabies coach appearing to flag the prospect of walking away after this year’s World Cup.
Following his stint as Barbarians coach on the weekend, Jones gave a wide-ranging interview to the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast.
Asked how he remained so energetic, after the best part of three decades as a professional coach, Jones made the perplexing admission that this might be his final year as Wallabies coach.
“I’m only coaching ’til this World Cup,” Jones said. “I’ve signed [until the end of 2027], but as I’ve made the mistake before, I’ve stayed too long. So we win the World Cup, it will be time to go. If we lose the World Cup, it will be time to go.”
Contacted by this masthead for clarity, Jones did not elaborate on his comments. He stressed he was focused only on the upcoming World Cup, which starts in 100 days in France, on September 8.
According to an RA spokesperson, Jones was trying to emphasise his “focus is only on the Rugby World Cup”.
Rugby Australia expects Eddie Jones to remain in charge from 2024 onwards.Credit: Getty
The spokesperson said RA’s expectation was that Jones would remain in charge from 2024 onwards and that the governing body had no concerns he would walk away from his deal, no matter what happens at the World Cup.
“Eddie’s contract runs until 2027,” the spokesperson said.
RA sacked Dave Rennie as Wallabies coach in January and replaced him immediately with Jones, who led Australia from 2001 to 2005 and helped the men in gold reach the 2003 World Cup final.
Dave Rennie (left) and Dan McKellar.Credit: Getty
When Jones was sacked by England at the end of 2022, less than a year out from the World Cup, RA chairman Hamish McLennan made it his mission to hire the 63-year-old. Had Jones and England not parted company, Rennie would probably still be in charge of the Wallabies.
Other senior RA officials put down Jones’ latest remarks to his mischievous sense of humour. Jones has previously joked he might not be around as Wallabies coach at the 2025 British and Irish Lions series if results don’t go Australia’s way.
If the Wallabies win the World Cup – for the first time since 1999 – and Jones decided he’d exit after less than a year in the top job, it would be a huge blow for RA.
With Rennie poised to coach in Japan at Kobe and Dan McKellar having left his role as Wallabies assistant for the Leicester job, it would leave Australia’s plans in tatters heading into a home 2027 World Cup.
After helping the Barbarians beat a World XV at Twickenham, Jones is back in Australia and will be keeping a close eye on the final regular season round of Super Rugby Pacific.
The earliest Jones can get his hands on Wallabies players – those who won’t be featuring in Super Rugby finals – is June 12.
Jones is also optimistic of being able to get what he wants when it comes to overseas picks for the World Cup.
While current rules state Australia can have three overseas-based players representing the Wallabies, Jones has indicated he wants more.
“We haven’t tabled that with the board yet but I’m sure we’re going to get a positive response on getting more players,” Jones said. “We’ve got [Will] Skelton, who’s probably the best right-side lock in the world, and Richie Arnold at Toulouse, who is a fantastic player in the Top 14.
“Quade Cooper, [Samu] Kerevi, [Marika] Koroibete … we can’t snub that sort of talent. I think Australians are always better when they are underdogs, when everyone thinks they haven’t got a sniff of it. They can come in under the radar.”
Watch all the action from the Super Rugby Pacific with every match streaming ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.
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