London – Eddie Jones is open to an approach from the Rugby Football Union about coaching England but thinks incumbent Stuart Lancaster deserves a fair review first, the Japan coach said on Monday.
The former Australia coach, who engineered Japan’s stunning upset of South Africa last month, has been touted in the media as a candidate to replace Lancaster after England failed to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
Jones signed a deal to coach the Cape Town-based Stormers in Super Rugby less two weeks ago but said becoming England’s first foreign coach was appealing.
“If England approached me, would I listen to them? Of course I would, but whether the RFU part ways with Stuart Lancaster is a big and difficult decision,” he wrote in a column in the Daily Mail.
“A proper review is needed to find out why they changed strategy halfway through the tournament.
“A lot of time has been invested in Lancaster and his squad have enormous potential, so he needs to convince the board that he can take those youngsters forward to 2019.”
Jones, who coached Australia to the 2003 World Cup final and was an advisor to South Africa when it won the tournament in 2007, said it had been an error to dump flyhalf George Ford for Owen Farrell for the second match against Wales.
“(Lancaster) must show . . . that he will learn from his mistakes and, if he can’t do that, I think he should go,” Jones added.
“There will be a lot of contenders queuing up for his job, but it’s a case of deciding what they want and then finding that person.”
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said on Sunday there would be no knee-jerk decisions over Lancaster’s future.
Jones said he thought Dean Richards and Jim Mallinder were the pick of the domestic candidates and that South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White would probably be interested if England went international in its search.
New Zealand assistant Wayne Smith would not be attracted by the post, he thought, while the prospect of a return for 2003 World Cup winner Clive Woodward in a supervisory role would create an intriguing dynamic if Jones took the job.
“A double act between Clive and myself would be interesting!” he said of his old sparring partner from 12 years ago.
“It’s not the sort of job I’ll go out chasing, but I’d certainly chat to them if they thought I was the right man for the role.”
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