June 18, 2024


Rassie Erasmus says coach Eddie Jones is ‘like a box of chocolates’

The Springboks believe the Wallabies under the coaching of the wily veteran Eddie Jones will be a completely different kettle of fish.

The unknown factor that Jones will bring to the new-look Aussies will make for a particularly interesting test match against the Springboks.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says new the Australia head coach “is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get” before Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener between the sides.

The Rugby World Cup title-holders tackle the Wallabies this weekend in Pretoria in Jones’ first game of his second spell in charge of the visitors.

“It is difficult from a South African perspective to figure out what he (Jones) will do,” Erasmus told reporters before the match at a sold-out crowd of 52 000 at Loftus Versfeld.

“Australia have not played any warm-up games that would give us some insights.

“I do not know how much they will be able to change for us – but I do know that Eddie will try to get his team to outmuscle us,” he added after using a quote made famous in the 1994 film ‘Forrest Gump’ starring Tom Hanks.

The Wallabies squad includes France-based locks Will Skelton and uncapped Richie Arnold, both standing more than two metres tall and weighing over 130 kilograms.

Erasmus, coach of the 2019 World Cup-winning Springboks, believes it will take Jones “three to four matches” to put his stamp on Australia.

“That said, he knows South Africa. He helped coach the Springboks team that won the 2007 World Cup. He knows our mentality,” Erasmus said.

“I always feel that a South African working with South Africans will get the best out of South Africans.

“Similarly, I think an Australian working with Australians will get the best out of them. He knows the Aussie setup.”

Jones is hoping to be the first Australia coach to win at Loftus after seven losses since the first meeting in 1963 and has experienced triumph and torment in dealings with South African sides.

Apart from helping then-Springboks head coach Jake White achieve glory in France in 2007, he plotted the greatest World Cup shock as Japan stunned South Africa in a 2015 group match.

The Springboks beat Jones-coached England in the 2019 World Cup final and when the green and gold won again, at Twickenham last November, Jones paid the ultimate price by being sacked.

He did not remain unemployed for long though, replacing New Zealander Dave Rennie, who had overseen a dismal 2022 season with Australia, losing nine of 13 Tests.


15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche/Steven Kisthoff

Substitutes: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Deon Fourie, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Damian Willemse


Jones stressed that money was not an issue – he reportedly took a 50 percent cut after being the highest paid rugby coach in the world when with England.

“When the opportunity came I jumped at it because (Australian) rugby is in a fairly dark place and needs a bit of energy, a bit of direction,” he told reporters before Australia left for South Africa last week.

“We need to work a bit harder and need to create a style of rugby that is quintessentially Australian.

“We have been copying other teams and that is not the Australian way.

“Australians, in whichever sport they play, are much better when they are aggressive. When we are positive and in the face of the opposition, we are doing it our way.

“When we have numbers at the line in attack and defence, like mongrel dogs running around, that is where we are at our best,” he added.

Asked before the team left for Johannesburg, what the recipe for success against the Springboks was, Jones was typically forthright.

“You have got to execute a game plan where you win enough possession to push them to the other end of the field and keep them under pressure.”

Asked if that would involve a kicking strategy, Jones replied: “Any way you can mate, just get up the other end of the field.

“Whether you run and pass or kick, it does not matter, as long as you get up there,” said the 63-year-old who was born in Tasmania. – AFP

Australia: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (co-captain), 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Carter Gordon.

Date: Saturday, July 8
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT; 01.00, Sunday, July 9 AEST)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)



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