Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans believes Eddie Jones will need all his magic tricks to guide England to another series victory over Australia this winter.
Australian Jones boasts an eight-from-eight record over the Wallabies since taking charge of England following their disastrous home Rugby World Cup campaign in 2015. The ex-Wallabies mentor tormented Michael Cheika for seven of those wins before masterminding a 32-15 rout over Dave Rennie’s side at Twickenham last November.
Deans, though, has been encouraged by the improvement of Australia’s Super Rugby sides and also the Wallabies under Rennie and cannot see another 3-0 sweep to England like six years ago when Australia hosts another three-Test series in July.
“You can only take so much punishment, particularly if you’re a proud sporting nation like Australia,” said Deans, two days after guiding Saitama Wild Knights to a fifth Japanese Top League title with an 18-12 win over Suntory Sungoliath, where Jones is director of rugby.
“They were always going to respond and they exposed a lot of young players through Super [Rugby]. It’s just that time in the saddle and no Australian sportsman is going to stay down for long.
“They’re on the incline and the international program will benefit from that. They’ll have more depth, more competition, more ability to ride out injuries and form. And they’ve got the ultimate incentive now – two World Cups ahead of them [in 2023 in France and 2027 in Australia].”
Asked if Jones would have any tricks up his sleeve, Deans said: “I hope so – he’ll need them. Yeah, they’ll be a challenge. No doubt about it. Eddie will be looking at it and expecting to win. It won’t be straightforward.”
The Wallabies will be boosted by the return of the Wild Knights’ star winger Marika Koroibete, who pledged his commitment to the series on Tuesday night. Rennie is also set to recall fellow Japan-based pair Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi as his two other overseas options allowed under Rugby Australia’s new eligibility rules.
Deans is tipping an epic series. “It’s going to be of great interest, which is good for the game,” he said. “You wouldn’t want too much at stake in terms of picking the outcome, which is good as well.
“It’s a year out from the World Cup and it’s an exciting time in Australian rugby, so it’s the front end of what will hopefully be a really positive resurgence for the game in the south.
“It’s not Australia, I think New Zealand [who play three home Tests against Ireland] as well could do with that. It’s important that southern hemisphere rugby – it’s been up the top the whole way, they’ve only let one World Cup slip – and we don’t want to make a habit of that.”\