SHAUN EDWARDS: Full thanks to England manager Eddie Jones for showing he’s not too old to change, Australia could use his steely resolve at the next World Cup…while Ireland’s lock Tadhg Beirne proved that speed is king
- England boss Eddie Jones has proven to be an adaptable manager
- England’s 2-1 series win over Australia was their first Down Under in six years
- Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne was impressive and quick in the friendly against New Zealand
Throughout this series Eddie Jones has proven that you are never too old to change.
I’ve read the comments from England players about how the manager has slipped. In the past, Eddie was work, work, work. Super intense. He has adapted to what lies ahead by giving his side some breathing room at the end of a very long season. Some guys have been playing without a break for almost a year.
Eddie gets a lot of criticism, but this proved that he still has so much to give. I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to Australia after the next World Cup. That wallabies need some of his steely resolve. When his contract with England expires, I could see him taking on a rugby director role there.
England manager Eddie Jones, 62, still has plenty to offer ahead of next year’s World Cup in France
Wayne Bennett has just signed a three-year contract and is 72 years old. Eddie is 62 and his health is pretty good. What better way to end your career than leading your home country to a home World Cup in 2027? He came pretty close in 2003 and I’m sure he’d love another crack.
It sounds like Courtney Lawes and Ellis Genge played big roles in the New England environment. They were both outstanding but Freddie Steward is the player that really caught my eye. He can become a superstar. He plays for Leicester, where the players aren’t too far ahead.
It’s unbelievable how often he steals the ball in the air. Against France in the Six Nations, he stole the ball in the air four times. If you make four turnovers in a row, you’ll probably become man of the match! Altitude, speed, athleticism. He’s the modern back-three player.
Tadhg Beirne was an important and fast part of the Irish team that beat New Zealand
Some of Tadhg Beirne’s interventions during Ireland’s win over New Zealand were absolutely vital. The game changes. It used to be called front-five and back-row. Now it’s a back five and a front row. You have guys like Beirne and Cameron Woki who are incredibly fast in the park but play on the second row. They are built like basketball players. In France we have the outstanding Paul Willemse but there are fewer big heavyweight second tiers in the game now. It’s all about getting through the park quickly and being the first to break down.
I was so impressed with Ireland’s performance. Their first half was the best rugby 40-minute run of any team that season. It was probably more impressive than France’s first half against the All Blacks in November when we didn’t lose a ball.
There was a lot of praise for Andy Farrell, but let’s not forget Mike Catt’s brilliant job coaching offense. They are so organized. Sending much of the attack to the short side is a modern phenomenon. Ireland is so good at it. Because of the line speed in the middle of the park, a tactic that works well for them is to do a pass to the middle and then come back. It helps to have Johnny Sexton in the No. 10 jersey with all his experience. He’s one of the greatest players of all time because he’s done it consistently over many years. He is the greatest Irish player of all time alongside Brian O’Driscoll.
Enjoy these days for all Six Nations fans as the North have dominated for the past few weeks. Ireland hope to be at least a semi-finalist at the World Cup.