Indigenous jersey "shows shift in Australian society": Jones

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

England coach Eddie Jones is all but focused on his team's inner workings but there is one moment where he might be a bit more reflective about his Australian heritage when Saturday rolls around.

The Wallabies will be wearing their Indigenous jersey on foreign soil for the first time and for just the second time ever when they take on England this Saturday.

Jones, who was Wallabies coach from 2001-2005, said the move showed a shift in Australian society since he was at the helm more than a decade ago.

“I’ll think of my mate Glen Ella, I think it’s a great initiative,” he said.

“I think it shows a change in Australian society.

“I was brought up in primary school where 30 per cent of the kids were Aboriginal, the high school I went to 30 per cent were Aboriginal.

“So for me it was normal to interact with the Aboriginal community, I think growing awareness of the importance of the Aboriginal culture is fantastic for Australia.”

The Wallabies are making sure the significance of the jersey is felt even before the weekend's Test, with a giant version of the jersey being displayed at the front of their hotel in London's south-west.

The Wallabies have planted a giant Indigenous jersey in front of their hotel in London. Photo: RUGBY.com.auIt’s been all charm offensive from Jones early this week and while he quipped that he might save any barbs “until Friday”, the England coach threw some more support behind Michael Cheika as the Wallabies hit the end of the tough year.

“I think Steve Hansen expressed it well,” he said.

“Unless you've coached international rugby and you understand the pressures of coaching the job, it's hard to understand what he's going through.

“I know he'd be hurt by the team's non-success and he'd be doing everything he can to make sure that his team's at its best.

“He's a good guy, he's passionate about Australian rugby wanting to be well.

“He started at the roots of the game, club level and worked his way up and I'm sure there'll be better days for him. Let's just hope it's not Saturday.”

One thing that he isn't being distracted by is the speculation over the fitness of no. 8 David Pocock.

Pocock sat out training on the first day in London but Jones said he'd heard all that before.

"We're not even thinking about it mate," he said.

"I hear this every time we play Australia, Pocock's not going to be fit. So, when I heard it I thought here we go again.

"You know those merry-go-rounds at the Royal Easter Show? It's a bit like that."

When Jones brought his team to Australia in 2016, he said he wanted his team to take inspiration from cricket’s famous “Bodyline” Ashes series.

Two years on, he says that’s just the norm in Tests this year - something to which anyone who watched the Ireland-New Zealand Test on Saturday could attest.

“Every Test match is like that now,” he said.

“You just look at the Tests on the weekend, how physical, how brutal they are, so it’s no different this week.

“It’s going to be a brutal game.

“The game is getting longer and longer and the ball in play is not changing. It’s becoming a real power game, a real contest game.”

While he has been keen to stay away from any barbs with Michael Cheika, he wasn’t worried about cheekily suggesting that some big Australian names might come out of the woodwork this week.

Former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer has often been vocal in Australia-England weeks and  asked if England would target the Wallabies' inconsistent scrum or lineout, Jones joked there should be a market on who will pipe up

“I’m sure Bob’s got something to say about that, let’s just wait and see what Bob says,” he said.

“You know the timing, it’s usually Wednesday. When’s Poido (former Wallabies flanker Simon Poidevin) due? Tuesday? Campo (former Wallabies winger David Campese) will be Thursday.

“It’s all lined up, here’s the order, I’m just waiting for it.

“It’s all coordinated, it’s all fun. If you’re a bookmaker you’d bet on when they’re going to say it.”

Jones all but ruled out centre Manu Tuilagi from a return against the Wallabies, despite the centre being included in his wider squad for the week.

No. 8 Nathan Hughes has returned from suspension to the squad, while halfback Danny Care has been omitted in favour of Richard Wigglesworth.

Former Blues flyhalf Piers Francis has also been added to the squad with Zach Mercer and Alex Lozowski.

The Wallabies take on England on Saturday November 24, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.

SQUAD

England squad for Wallabies

Forwards

Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)

Jamie George (Saracens)

Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)

Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs)

Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors) *

Nathan Hughes (Wasps)

Maro Itoje (Saracens)

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs)

Brad Shields (Wasps)

Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)

Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby)

Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)

Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)

Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)

Backs

Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks)

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby)

Elliot Daly (Wasps)

Owen Farrell (Saracens)

George Ford (Leicester Tigers)

Piers Francis (Northampton Saints)

Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)

Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)

Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)