Anyone who has listened to my rantings and ravings down the years will know my views on Robbie Deans. He came to the Wallabies in 2008 with good credentials but he was a Kiwi and he had no idea about rugby in Australia. It took us a long time to get over that coaching appointment.
Michael Cheika has done brilliantly to restore the right culture to the Wallabies. He knows rugby and, more specifically, he knows Australian rugby. He played more than 300 games for Randwick. He understands the mindset of the players and what we want to do.
I am not saying the same thing will happen to England under Eddie Jones as happened to Australia under Deans – in fact, I am sure Eddie will get good results – but it has always been my view that a national coach should be from that country.
Maybe I am old-fashioned. I guess we are so far down the road of professionalism that it does not matter any more. Results are all that count. We had four southern hemisphere semi-finalists at the World Cup and the Rugby Football Union has clearly reacted to that.
Maybe the RFU was right to. If Jones wins trophies, his appointment will be declared a big success. But I take a different view.
What does it say to the best young coaches in England that the RFU preferred to look abroad for the biggest job in the land?
What does it say to the likes of Dean Richards, an excellent coach and a hard man? I know he was caught up in that “Bloodgate” business but, honestly, Harlequins were hardly the only team to be doing that. What does it say to Exeter coach Rob Baxter?
I think it must be deflating, as it must be for aspiring English cricket coaches to see Trevor Bayliss in the top job. We Aussies do seem to be supplying coaches to half your national teams at the moment! Thankfully it is one-way traffic. We may have taken a punt on Deans, but we are a long way from appointing an Englishman to lead one of our national teams.
This is to take nothing away from Eddie, who is a good coach, albeit not someone with whom I generally see eye to eye. Although we are almost exactly the same age, both former Randwick players, we did not really socialise as players and hardly ever speak any more. When Eddie became the Australian coach in 2001 I am not sure he welcomed my opinions. That was entirely his prerogative. I have no problem with that.
I think he will win England games. He is a workaholic, someone who pays attention to the little details, someone who likes to work his players and his coaches hard. He is up at the crack of dawn and gives his job 100per cent and will expect everyone else around him to do the same. His track record as a coach speaks for itself.
Nor will his tenure be dull. At least not off the field. The media are going to have a great time. Just Google a press conference he gave after Japan lost to the French Barbarians a few years ago and you will see what I mean. Eddie is about as far as you can get from Stuart Lancaster’s understated style.
I notice, by the way, that Lancaster has been on tour in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He gave a presentation to the Stormers earlier this week, though quite what anyone would want to learn from this guy beats me!
On the pitch, though, it is unlikely to be so lively with Eddie. He has been brought in to win, not to entertain. And if I was Danny Cipriani, or any other maverick-type player, or footballer, I would be worried. Eddie is a hooker by trade. He had his head in a scrum all his life. He knows one way.
And he will not be changing it for anyone. He is the boss. He wants players who fit into his system and his work ethic. I am not saying that is wrong. It would not be what I would want. Personally I like to see flair and entertainment. But maybe that is why he is the England coach and I am the pundit.
He is no mug. He has taken on board the RFU’s desire to bring along English coaches, and the need to introduce some specialist expertise. He has invited Jonny Wilkinson to do some kicking work. He has got George Smith doing some part-time consultancy stuff around the breakdown.
He has brought in a few young English coaches. But the game plan will be based on control.
England fans are likely to see an upturn in their results, but that does not necessarily make him the right appointment.
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