Eddie Jones has accused several leading Australian rugby pundits of disrespecting his squad and England’s head coach is predicting more dirty tricks in the lead-up to the second Test against the Wallabies, 1-0 down in the best-of-three series, in Melbourne on Saturday.
Jones reacted angrily to what he called a “disgusting” promotional video aired by Fox Sports before the first Test in Brisbane and took exception to post-match questions posed by the former international Stephen Hoiles, who is employed on a rugby show on the same network.
Hoiles attempted to make fun of Jones’s reaction to England’s gripping 39-28 victory, after which the head coach celebrated the outcome with a second former Wallaby Glen Ella, who is working with England as a coaching consultant. Jones was not amused and believes the touring team are worthy of more respect. “You’ve seen the Fox promos, they are disgusting,” he said. “It is quite demeaning and disrespectful to the team.
“I’m not worried about myself. I can handle myself, don’t worry about that. All I am saying is there’s been a disrespectful way in which the team has been treated in the media here.”
The head coach also suspects there may be more to come. “I am sure they are all going to be lining up,” Jones said. “There has been a row of ex-Wallaby players – you’ve had Hoiles, you’ve had Simon Poidevin and you’ve had Phil Kearns. David Campese has got to be somewhere. He is coming for sure. I can see next week something is going to happen.”
Jones is no stranger to media spats in his native country but the notion of an Australian coaching England to a series victory over the Wallabies is clearly a source of potential local friction.
Hoiles’s crass line of questioning – “You’ve been in the press more than Donald Trump this week … you and Glen looked lubed up, how did you enjoy that moment up in the box?” – also seemed not to impress his compatriot Ella, who subsequently tweeted: “Swing Low Sweet Chariots.”
England, though, remain wary of their hosts, with Jones insisting his players will have to perform better than they did in Brisbane. “It is like scoring a Test hundred, no one ever takes that away from you. We have done that but next week is even more important. Australian teams prefer to be underdogs, so they are going to be happy. They hate losing here. We need to make sure we have good focus. The Australians will come at us left, right and centre.”
The Wallabies will be without their world-class back-rower David Pocock, who will be sidelined for six weeks with a fractured eye socket, for the rest of the series but Jones says England have no pressing selection issues. “We want to improve the side every week, that’s all we’re trying to do. I don’t see that as selection issues.”
George Ford, an influential replacement on Saturday, will be among those pushing hard for a starting place. “It is a big week ahead,” the fly-half said. “We have all played a game and we can look at video of each other. It will be interesting what the teams now do next week in terms of tactics.”
England have never won a three-Test series in the southern hemisphere but have tasted success in Melbourne. They beat the Wallabies 25-14 in June 2003 before defeating the same opponents, then coached by Jones, in that November’s World Cup final in Sydney.
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