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Eddie bombshell to ignite Wallabies’ Cup charge

Morgan Turinui says he would be a “no brainer” to add Eddie Jones to the Wallabies brains trust if the former England coach was keen to come home for another Rugby World Cup campaign.

England’s decision to part ways with Jones is a fascinating plot twist ahead of next year’s World Cup and Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has already rolled out the welcome mat for the return of a prodigal son.

The million dollar questions are whether Jones is actually interested and whether Wallabies coach Dave Rennie felt working with the 62-year-old was viable and a formula for success.

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Former Wallaby Turinui – who played under Jones – believes it would be.

“A technical advisor role, I think it’s a bit of a no brainer,” Turinui told Wide World of Sports.

“I like Dave Rennie, I think he’s the right guy for this World Cup campaign. Like the work he’s done. I think it’s a good coaching staff. And (manager) Chris Webb and (attack coach) Scott Wisemantel have strong existing relationships with Eddie so I think the alignment’s there for a really nice role.

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“The important thing is having real clarity about who does what but in terms of a winning Wallabies team, I think he’s a guy that can help them achieve, help them be better at the World Cup. I think it’s a bit of a no brainer .”

Jones has led teams to two World Cup finals - the 2003 Wallabies, including Turinui, and the 2019 England team.

He also masterminded Japan’s memorable 2015 World Cup campaign, upsetting South Africa, and was an advisor to Jake White when the Springboks won the 2007 tournament.

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“It’s always hard trying to unwrap Eddie’s motivations – a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” Turinui quipped.

“But I’ve never seen a better coach during a game.”

Turinui pointed to the example of Jones hooking senior England halfback Danny Care after just 36 minutes in Sydney this year and injecting sparky youngster Jack van Poortvliet, who played a key role in the series-clinching win.

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“If he didn’t have the foresight, the insight, the bravery to make that call, I don’t think they win that Test,” Turinui said.

“He’s a brilliant footy brain with decades of experience.”

The wisecracking Jones is known as a workaholic with extremely high standards and a master of mind games.

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Rennie presents a more calm demeanour to go with sharp tactical acumen and a reputation for prioritizing tight-knit bonds within teams.

Given that the Wallabies aren’t exactly flying – ranked sixth in the world – Turinui believes the reward far outweighs the risk.

“I think they can be great together actually,” he said.

“They can be really complementary, to be honest. Dave’s a guy with great rugby IP himself and he’s a self aware guy. I think he’s very good around the environment, pushing guys to be better, but Eddie can perhaps bring a little edge that maybe they need Eddie is one of the greatest living resources of rugby there is in the world.

“Whether all the parties are keen on that, I don’t know, but I think it’s a logical one that would add value without creating too much friction.”

Wallabies legend Tim Horan – who worked as a selector with Jones during his time with Australia – was also intrigued about the upside of a potential return.

However, Horan also expressed caution about whether working alongside Rennie would be the right fit at the right time.

“I would say yes, absolutely look at it, to see how Eddie could add value with the current coaching staff that’s there,” Horan told WWOS.

“But I think the current coaching staff are doing a great job and you can see that we’re not far off. We’re not far off doing something special at the World Cup…

“This is not a decision for Hamish McLennan or the CEO (Andy Marinos).

“It’s got to be collective – ‘Dave, how could it help you and would you be open to having any help?’ And for Eddie – is there a role that he could fulfill while reporting to someone?”

Rennie is off contract after the World Cup and so the other option for RA would simply be trying to lock in Jones as a replacement for 2024 and beyond as it prepares to host the 2027 World Cup.

“Dave has got to run the show. He’s got to be the boss,” Horan said.

“So can Eddie be a skills coach or a technical coach underneath Rennie?

“I think it’s good that RA are looking at every bit of resource you can put behind this team to give them the best chance to win a World Cup. But for me it has to be as an assistant or as a skills coach working under the head coach.”

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Another former Wallaby who played under Jones, Justin Harrison, said the coach had a proven record of producing international stars “out of mediocrity.”

“Which is a very good trait to have as a coach – to be able to make immediate change,” Harrison told WWOS.

“And he’s experienced in different environments with different resources available to you – from Australia to Japan to England. Wherever he goes he’s got a proven track record of developing talent. He’s very good at getting players to understand their identity, what they should focus on and what they need to be world class.

“He can develop players’ intellectual capacity to play international rugby and vary their game plan. So these are all traits that are attractive when a candidate enters the market.

“But Dave Rennie is still the national coach and a very good coach in his own right.

“What every organization should do is explore the market. Due diligence on potential candidates. Make sure that they’re abreast of market knowledge and also tie that back into what Australia needs.”

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