Australia: New Wallabies coach Eddie Jones sets sights on 2023 Rugby World Cup

New Australia head coach Eddie Jones said he should not be treated as the messiah but believes the Wallabies should be regarded as contenders at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

Speaking at his alma mater, Matraville Sports High School in Sydney, where he returned to on Tuesday along with Australia’s famous Ella brothers – Mark, Glen and Gary – Jones made no secret that he feels the Wallabies were capable of lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy for the third time.

“We’re all in this together but sometimes you just need someone to beat the drum to get people walking faster and maybe that’s the role at the moment,” Jones said.

“Australian rugby has gone through tough periods before. This is not unusual… Australia ended up winning the World Cup in 1991 and then 1999 we won the World Cup.

Not short of talent

“We want to start that period again. We’re not short of talented players here but talent doesn’t win World Cups. What wins World Cups and wins the hearts of people is teams who play with that same spirit the Ellas had.

“Being aggressive, playing with a certain panache. That doesn’t mean you run with the ball all the time because kicking can be as artistic as running the ball.

“We want to play with a certain panache. We want to play tough so at the end of tight games, you win those tight games. That’s the traditional Australian digger spirit.

“We want that in the team and that’s the opportunity for the players this year.”

Jones, who is in his second tenure as Wallabies head coach after replacing New Zealander Dave Rennie earlier this month, signed a five-year contract with Rugby Australia and hopes to restore the glory days to the 15-a-side game in the country.

“I’m not the messiah,” he warned. “We’re all in this together – sometimes you need somebody to beat the drum to make you walk a bit faster.”

The Wallabies won five and lost nine internationals in 2022 and are currently in sixth position in the world rankings and only have five Tests to prepare for their World Cup campaign which kicks off against Georgia in Paris on September 9.

Two of those Tests in the build-up to the global showpiece will be against their trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand and Jones is determined to end the Wallabies’ 21-year Bledisloe Cup drought against the All Blacks.

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“That is a big target for us because we know if we can take on New Zealand we are in a good position to take the World Cup,” he said.

“It’s not the be all and end all because the World Cup is the major tournament.

“They (New Zealand) are in a pretty good spot, but we’re coming after them.

“We’ll be chasing them down the street, we want that rivalry to be tough and we’ll make sure we’re chasing them.”

Jones believes the revival of the Wallabies’ fortunes will start with his backroom staff.

Incumbent assistant coaches Dan McKellar and Laurie Fisher worked under Rennie and Jones will have to decide on who will be part of his coaching team in the coming weeks.

Jones said who he uses as his assistants would be made based on what his players need – players he said who just require the belief they can beat world’s best.

“Our players don’t lack talent, if you did a world XV on talent, there would be a fair few Australian players in there,” he said.

“We’ve got to find the right level of coaching for the players so they give a bit more.

“Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile (when) medical history said your body would disintegrate.

“The Kenyan (Eliud Kipchoge) broke the two-hour marathon (record).

“Our players don’t know how good they can be.

“I’ve got a role to prod them, cajole them, love them to see if we can get a bit more out of them.”

Warning to players

Jones issued a warning to Super Rugby Pacific players ahead of the start of the tournament on February 24, saying their form would determine whether they are selected or not.

“If they’re worried or excited, it doesn’t concern me,” he said. “If they’re at their best in Super Rugby then they’ll be in the Wallabies.

“Then they’ll be excited, because they’ll go on a journey to change Australian rugby.”