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Sunday 8 December 2019

Method to Jones madness

England coach revels in 'outsider' tag

Eddie Jones is known for his outrageous statements that are designed to ellicit a reaction
Eddie Jones is known for his outrageous statements that are designed to ellicit a reaction

You can't just fake it until you make it, But you can fake it once you make it in the elite world of professional coaching.

The elite can reach a place in their careers where they have earned the right to say what they like and not be a prisoner of the moment, like Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones.

Results and the trophies that come with them are what make legends or loons of them all.

Winning gives license to coaches in all sports to make outlandish, ridiculous statements without genuine backsplash.

Jones is a winner and a man of promises, some made with sincerity, some designed to ruffle feathers.

He can deface the game as colourfully as any street artist with one of his quick-witted quips.

Little wonder, born of an Australian father and Japanese mother, Jones has been an outsider all of his life.

"I never fitted-in. In Australia, I was always half-Asian. When I go to Japan, I'm half-Australian," he said on The LifeTimes podcast recently.

"I was in Saracens the other week and a bloke comes up to me and says, 'look, you're doing a fantastic job for a foreigner.'"

It would appear he is Eddie-foreigner wherever he goes.

This could account for the indiscriminate way in which he aims and fires words at will, operating not out of loyalty to anyone or any place - just for his own personal agenda.

"That is part of the challenge, how do you work out where you fit in?" he said.

"I don't revel in being an outsider. But it does afford you opportunities.

"When I look at the English job, it is easy for me to be objective because I don't come with a certain educational or class pedigree.

"Certainly, those factors are evident in what I see in English rugby and English society.

"Because I don't fit in there, I can look at the players more objectively."

Jones has been attributed with admitting he was a better 'sledger' than a player.

Either way, he has always been a small man in a big man's world.

"I was an 80kg hooker playing against people who were 110kg, so you had to find some advantage," he said.

"If you couldn't find it through your physical prowess, you had to find it through your thinking prowess."

Of course, he has taken that attitude into coaching, cutting people down with his sharp tongue.

The master of mind games never tires of taunting and teasing, even bringing Jonathan Sexton's parents into his web of intrigue in an effort to distract Ireland's out-half in February 2016, later apologising for it.

"The physical part is the easy part. The thinking part is the hard part," he said about his job.

Massive

"Even today, there are still massive advantages in saying the right thing at the right time.

"You can elicit a response from your team or from the other team that may help you."

Jones has gone to the bother of setting up team meetings and not turning up, setting up training sessions and not turning up, to get a response from his players and assistant coaches.

Expect the unexpected could be his mantra.

The lunacy of his blasts at anyone and everyone have been all part of a gimmick to cause conflict inside and outside his camp.

He has even revelled in the accusations of arrogance that seem to accompany England wherever they go, whenever they are winning.

No doubt, this was put out to build an us-against-the-world siege mentality.

"You've always got to have creative tension," he stated.

"If you don't have different ideas and good debate - sometimes that's conflict - you can never get the best result."

The media has been the vehicle through which Jones drives his pre-game campaign.

"We know the media influences. If we can influence what the media does, then we can get a potential advantage.

"It's a battle with the media. The headline they want is sometimes not the headline we want.

"It's a battle between their questions and your answers."

There is method to Jones' madness.

It has delivered a Grand Slam and Six Nations title for England.

Now, he will do all in his power to bring the World Cup home.

This legend is no loon.

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