Jones heaps praise and pressure on Wallabies

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Barbarians coach Alan Jones is putting all the pressure on Michael Cheika for Saturday’s clash, joking it would be an ‘Australian rugby crisis’ if the Baabaas won.

Cheika and Jones addressed media together on Thursday, ahead of the clash and the silver-tongued broadcaster wasted no time heaping the spotlight on his counterpart.

“Basically, if we win on Saturday there is a crisis in Australian rugby,” he laughed.

“Job on the line, players on the line.”

Jones and Cheika joked about a job swap should the Barbarians take the game on Saturday, but when the laughing subsided JOnes was full of praise for Cheika’s work with the Wallabies.

The Barbarians mentor often takes swipe at the game’s administration and indeed said again on Thursday that he ‘wouldn’t sell them to a traveller on the street’, but he said the Wallabies could succeed in spite of off-field dramas.

“My view may not be Michael's (Cheika’s) view but this bloke is smart enough,” he said.

“He has managed to quarantine these people from that.

“The Wallabies are not Australian rugby, they're representative of Australian rugby and yes I think we can win the World Cup.

Jones said the issue in Australia was losing too much talent to overseas and competing codes, at every level of the game.

"I taught at (Brisbane Grammar School) and it was a factory - we would have fix or six Australian Schoolboys side a year

"He (former Reds coach and BGS rugby development officer) Phil Mooney told me there were 850 kids playing soccer, 550 kids playing basketball and 320 playing rugby

"If we don't stop this complete erosion it is going to be very difficult to figure out where the Wallabies of 10 years time are going to come from

"This is the administrators - they think I'm attacking the administrators of the game but I'm trying to tell them there is another way of doing this." 

One of those overseas-based Australians is Crusaders prop Mike Alaalatoa, who was actually in Barbarians camp on Thursday before failing to get a clearance from his Super Rugby club to play, frustrating Jones.

“It's just ridiculous, isn't it?,” he said.

“The game is about the players, it's about the players.

“Here's a kid that is in the hotel and he wants to play...You should have seen the look on his face.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for them that they won't get anywhere else.”

Cheika said Alaalatoa would certainly be welcomed back into Australian rugby if he wanted to return but the Wallabies mentor wasn’t going to go about poaching him, with the front rower having re-signed for two more seasons.

“The first step is to get him to come back home,” Cheika said.

“He is playing in New Zealand right now so once we get him back home playing Super Rugby, we're on.

“The one thing I don't want to be saying is that the kid came and rang me up and then he's got to go down to see his coach the next day.

“No, he hasn't really at this point

“It would be us chasing him and I think that's what we need to do - chase more of those young players.

“Quality players that are plying their trade overseas, we have to make sure we are bringing them home wherever we can.”

Luke Jones is another ex-pat lining up against the Wallabies on Saturday, the former Rebels lock plying his trade with French Top 14 side Bordeaux.

The Barbarians take on Australia on Saturday October 28, kicking off at 3pm AEDT LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Network Ten.