LONDON – Eddie Jones is a mix of “fun-loving” Pep Guardiola and fearless former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, said South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White.
“Look at his record and he’s a winner,” White told The Sun newspaper of the Australian coach in charge of England for Saturday’s World Cup final against South Africa in Yokohama.
“A mixture of Ferguson and Guardiola. He is clever enough to work out what he needs.
“He brought in younger players like Guardiola has done at City and cut older ones and big names like Ferguson did at United.”
White knows Jones well and hired him as a consultant for the 2007 World Cup in which South Africa beat England in the final.
For Jones, Saturday’s final comes 16 years after the then-Australia coach suffered the heartbreak of losing the 2003 final to England thanks to Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal in the last seconds of extra time .
“Eddie has brought balance,” said White, 55.
“He wants to be the fun-loving guy like Guardiola but is not afraid to make the big calls like Ferguson.”
White, who cites Jones’ omitting former captains Chris Robshaw and Dylan Hartley as well as England’s second-most capped scrum half Danny Care from the squad as evidence of his ruthlessness, said he believes the Australian could emulate New Zealand’s Steve Hansen in winning two World Cups.
But he hopes that will not happen on Saturday and that his compatriots will win their third World Cup.
White, who has since the 2007 success coached among other sides Australian outfit The Brumbies and French Top 14 team Montpellier, said it is outside factors which makes it so important the ‘Boks first black captain Siya Kolisi lifts the trophy.
“South Africa need this win for more than just rugby reasons — for political reasons, for unity,” said White.
“We had it in 1995 with Nelson Mandela (the iconic image of the black president handing the trophy to the white South African captain Francois Pienaar) and we need a feel-good story again.”
Whatever happens on Saturday, he said Jones should resist reported interest from Australia and stick with England.
“He’s gone through the difficult times to get here, made tough calls, so why would he want to do all that again with another nation?” he said
“Look at the young guys — Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Maro Itoje.
“They will be around for a while. Eddie can build something special with this group.”