Eddie Jones has insisted there will be no conflict of loyalties when he coaches England against his native Australia for the first time next year.
Jones was in charge of the Wallabies when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney.
But on Friday he became England’s new head coach after Stuart Lancaster stepped down following the team’s group stage exit at the World Cup — the worst performance by a host nation in the tournament’s history.
Jones’s first match in charge of England will be their Six Nations opener away to Scotland on February 6, but June 2016 sees the Red Rose brigade travelling to Australia for a three-Test series against the Wallabies.
And the new coach, who enhanced his reputation at this year’s World Cup by guiding unheralded Japan to three wins, including a shock defeat of South Africa, told a Twickenham press conference on Friday he would relish the challenge.
“One of the things my track record had shown is that the team that I coach, I’m 100 percent committed to,” said Jones, a member of South Africa’s backroom staff when they won the 2007 World Cup.
“Obviously, when you are playing against your own country, you feel something,” added Jones, England’s first foreign head coach.
“Everyone’s normal. But I can guarantee you that when we get to that starting line, I’ll be 100 percent committed to England.”
Jones’s appointment means that all four Home Nations now have an overseas coach, with Wales, Ireland and Scotland led by a trio of New Zealanders in Warren Gatland, Joe Schmidt and Vern Cotter.
– Barbados dream –
One of the tasks the RFU have given Jones, who has signed a four-year contract, is to develop homegrown coaches who are in a position to take over from him following the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
“I will be 59 by the next World Cup and I will be watching cricket in Barbados. That is one of my dreams,” Jones said.
“You can do a lot with players in four years and then it’s time for someone else to do it. I see it as part of my job in the four years to develop England coaches to take over.
“Everyone wants to have their own nationalities as a head coach and I understand that.”
Jones, who left Japan to join the Stormers after the World Cup only to be in charge of the South African provincial side for a matter of days before the RFU came calling, said he wanted to develop an England game based on their traditional set-piece strengths and not simply try to copy the style of world champions New Zealand.
“If we get that right, then we’ll have a strong side,” he said. “We want the All Blacks to be watching how England play — that would be nice wouldn’t it!”
But Jones, who hopes to build a “winning team that has Twickenham buzzing”, said he wanted a captain in the mould of New Zealand great Richie McCaw, who retired this week, to lead the side.
“The first thing with a captain is that he has to be one of the first players selected,” Jones said.
“Those stories about Richie McCaw are true. In training they go from one drill to the next and he sprints there, he’s the first there. He cleans the changing room after the game and that’s the sort of guy you want.”
During the World Cup, Jones wrote that current England captain Chris Robshaw was not a genuine openside flanker.
That led to speculation that Robshaw may not have much of a test future, let alone as captain, under Jones.
“I wasn’t the coach of England then, I was a newspaper columnist,” Jones said Friday.
“I was being a bit naughty. One of the first things I have to do is sit down with Chris and chat to him.
“As with all the players, he’s starting from zero. There’s always an opportunity to change things and he’s in that position.” – Agence France-Presse