If there was any doubt on how Wallabies players feel about the appointment of Eddie Jones, there is no longer.
Scrum half Nic White admitted he is ‘s**ting himself’ over playing under new coach Eddie Jones, after Dave Rennie was sacked earlier this month following a poor 2022 which saw the side win just five of 14 Tests.
White was of course speaking with his tongue firmly in-cheek, but it certainly still gives insight into the mood of the Wallaby camp just months out from a World Cup.
Jones, who previously coached the Wallabies from 2001-2005, is known for his uncompromising, intense approach with both coaches and players, and White said the players were well aware of his reputation.
Wallabies half Nic White admitted he was ‘s***ting himself’ over new Aussie coach Eddie Jones, who is famous for his uncompromising approach
‘Eddie Jones, (is) an amazing coach, a guy who a lot of us admire what he’s done and are pretty excited,’ he said on Channel 9’s Australian Open coverage.
‘Excited and I guess everyone is kind of quietly s***ting themselves about Eddie coming in.
‘Mate, he’s a world class coach so there is a bit of excitement there but he is also a whole lot of unknown for us players. It has been a ride.’
The no. 9 was close with Rennie, and admitted it was tough to see him go after three-year tenure that were some of the toughest times the Wallabies have faced in recent times.
Nic White (right), pictured with ex-coach Dave Rennie after a heartbreaking loss to New Zealand late last year, said he was ‘saddened’ to see him face the axe
‘Obviously a few emotions there (with Rennie’s departure),’ said White.
‘We had just done a camp with Dave and set the scene around the World Cup and we had been with Dave for three years.
‘Initially, you’re saddened that he is not able to take us through to the World Cup,’ White said, with the tournament set to take place in France from September 8 to October 28.
Fellow Wallaby Ned Hanigan said his ‘jaw hit the ground’ when he found out about Rennie being sacked, with the squad finding out as the same time as the public, when Rugby Australia dropped their stunning press release.
Nic White shakes the hand of Eddie Jones before Australia played England in July last year
The Waratahs forward, who has 28 caps for Australia, said it has been a busy time, and will be an exciting year as the side looks to reverse their fortunes and somehow challenge for the World Cup.
‘It has been a bit hectic, We were back in on Monday week and, yeah, we were in for a few medicals and got pulled in (to hear about Rennie’s sacking),’ said Hanigan.
News got delivered quite quickly. Yeah. Rens (Rennie) is out, Eddie is in. (My) jaw hit the ground, it was all a bit of a shock. But it is an exciting year, nevertheless.’
White and Hanigan are both players who have not cemented spots in the starting XV for the World Cup.
Ned Hanigan, pictured at a Wallabies training session on January 12, said the squad is pumped for an exciting year
Rennie experimented with countless halves combinations – including White – and never settled on one; while Hanigan is one of several forwards who will be fighting for a spot at flanker or lock.
The Kiwi also had a pretty hard-nosed approach, but Jones, who was at the helm when Australia suffered a heartbreaking loss in the 2003 World Cup final against England, is another kettle of fish.
When Wallabies great Morgan Turinui, who was coached by Jones, commented on what he’d bring to the table, it was pretty clear: ‘sink or swim’.
Eddie Jones, pictured with Wallaby legend Morgan Turinui in the foreground, previously coached Australia from 2001-2005
‘There’s anxiety in the working environment. You’re never relaxed and resting on your laurels. There’s always a drive or the next challenge, the next session, the next rep in the gym to make yourself better. That’s the environment,’ the player-turned-commentator said on Stan Sports.
‘So it is sink or swim. If you can’t cope with the environment, then he’ll find other players to do it
‘His memory isn’t brilliant, so he writes everything down. He’s got notes to refer to. His diligence is unparalleled. Straight away, as a player, you know that your coach is working harder than anyone else.
‘He’s holding the staff accountable, so you know it’s an environment where if you can work through the furnace that is the environment, he can make you the best player you can be,’ said Turinui, who was a huge fan of Jones’ appointment by Rugby Australia.
Wallabies players face an uphill task to turn around their fortunes ahead of the World Cup later this year
One of Turinui’s former teammates, hard-nosed hooker Al Baxter, said Jones ‘basically outworks other coaches’, and was brilliant at motivation players.
‘He’s (Jones) excellent at working out what drives certain players,’ Baxter told Code Sports.
‘He was big on working out who was the best in the world, from a team point of view, and from a positional point of view, and then working out – or reverse engineering – what made them so good, and demanding our players work out similar strategies.’
That being said, Jones has been sacked from posts as Australia and England head coaches now, and there’s reasons for that.
Numerous former players, coaches and other officials under him have spoken about how intense the atmosphere was with him at the helm, with multiple assistants finding his verbal lashings too much.
The second-most capped Wallaby ever, Stephen Moore, recently wrote that he wasn’t a fan of Rugby Australia’s choice, which he said reflected a clear lack of ability to develop our own coaches and players with strong leadership qualities.
Wallabies legend Stephen Moore believes Jones’ hiring was a ‘panicked’ one, and has lashed Rugby Australia for not doing a better job of developing coaches
Moore said before Jones was hired, no one had shown any interest in the Wallabies job.
‘(Hiring Jones) is almost a panicked decision because Eddie got sacked by England and they had to move quickly,’ he wrote on Code Sports.
‘We haven’t grown our own coaches like we should’ve and now it’s biting us. Whenever the Wallabies job comes up, we’re scratching our heads about who could fill that role.’
It’s been a highly controversial appointment.
But boy, can Jones – a quirky, hilarious and uncompromising character – coach.
Eddie Jones at his quirky, hilarious best at an England training session
He will go down in history, for now at least, as England’s most (winning record of 73 per cent) successful coach, despite a couple of poor years that eventually led to his axing.
He’ll need every ounce of that former success to turn the Wallabies ship around, after losses to Ireland, minnows Italy and France marred a disappointing Spring Tour in November.
He’ll have just five Tests before the World Cup to figure out his best XV, instill faith in his methods and get the Wallabies humming the same note.
Jones has just eight months until the World Cup, with five games to figure out what his best XV will be
Jones will have just five Test matches to prove the Wallabies are capable Rugby World Cup contenders.
The Wallabies face South Africa on July 8 and Argentina on July 15 in a shortened three-match Rugby Championship, before matches against arch-rivals the All Blacks on July 29 and August 5.
Back-to-back matches against New Zealand follow on July 29 and August 5.
Fortunately a game against Georgia presents an ideal way to ease into a World Cup, which Australia is equal-fourth favourite ($8 at TAB.com.au) for.