Rugby Australia is said to be considering the shock signing of its former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones in the wake of his axing by England.
Australia could soon see Jones on home soil thanks to the absence of a non-compete clause in his former role.
A return to the Wallabies would mark the first time since 2005 that the veteran has been part of the Rugby Australia fold.
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Despite holding one of the best records of any England leader to date, Jones was sacked by the Rugby Football Union last week off the back of an up-and-down campaign.
He thrice won the Six Nations, claimed two Triple Crowns, and one Grand Slam. He was World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2017.
In the wake of his departure, Jones told the Sun Herald that nothing was off the table as far as his coaching future was concerned.
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He said he would even consider NRL, though a bid by Rugby Australia to steer the Wallabies into the 2023 Rugby World Cup could be more enticing.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan told the Mail on Sunday that he is eager to get Jones home ahead of the all-important tournament.
“Eddie is clearly a massive talent and campaigner in World Cups,” said McLennan.
“We’ve got Dave Rennie [Wallabies head coach] in place but we need to think how we can weaponize these recent events for Australia if Eddie wants to come home.”
Exactly what role he might play remains to be seen, and no indication has been given yet as to whether his signing would be at the expense of the incumbent Wallabies coach.
All Blacks great Murray Mexted said Rugby Australia shouldn’t remove Rennie so close to the World Cup.
McLennan said he believed Jones’ return to the Wallabies coaching roster would be well received by the public.
“I’m surprised this has happened,” McLennan said of Jones’ axing.
“Is Australia ready for Eddie? He is the prodigal coaching son. For the most part, people love him.”
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Incumbent captain Owen Farrell labeled Jones’ sacking “unbelievably disappointing” and said the players had not pushed him out.
“Eddie had been a big part of England Rugby for a long time now and he has been one of the best coaches I have ever had so, for that, I’m massively thankful,” Farrell told the BBC.
“We are disappointed it has finished early and we owe a lot to him. I have been around for a while now and not been around too many changes, both at club and international level. It’s not pleasant to go through.
“I don’t think it has come from the players. There is obviously stuff we all want to get better at from the results but as players you look at yourself and see what you can do.”
Jones took the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final where they went down to England in Australia.
He also took England to the 2019 World Cup final where they lost to South Africa in Japan.
Richard Cockerill has been named England’s interim coach while attempts are made to poach Steve Borthwick from Premiership Rugby side the Leicester Tigers.
England’s Rugby Football Union are also eyeing Cockerill’s offsiders, defense coach Kevin Sinfield as well as strength and conditioning coach Aled Walter, according to the Daily Telegraph.
However, those acquisitions come with a hefty cost, totaling upwards of $3.6 million for their release.
England’s Six Nations campaign begins on February 5 against Scotland.
Next year’s World Cup in France is less than nine months away and kicks off with the host nation facing New Zealand on September 9.
England’s first match sees them face Argentina while Australia will face Georgia, both on September 10.
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