Rugby

Eddie Jones Levels The Lions With Some Self-Serving Criticism

Eddie Jones Levels The Lions With Some Self-Serving Criticism

If rugby didn't have Eddie Jones, it would be necessary to invent him. Among the game's most irascible figures, Jones has partly styled himself on José Mourinho, in the sense that he uses every press conference and interaction with the media as an opportunity to gain an advantage on the field.

That fact of his character rings throughout Brian Moore's courting of his opinion of the incipient Lions tour.

The Lions face quite the task: win a series in New Zealand, where the All Blacks haven't been beaten in a Test game in nine years. Added to that the considerable stumbling blocks of provincial and Super Rugby teams eager for their pound of flesh, and the lack of preparation time, it's unsurprising that the All Blacks are odds-on to win the series.

Jones is very pessimistic about the Lions' chances, mainly because there isn't enough Eddie Jones about the whole endeavour.

Speaking to Moore on the Telegraph's rugby podcast, Jones - who as hinted that he would gladly accept the Lions gig should it be offered to him in the future -  frets that Warrenball won't be enough to bash the Blacks:

I think it's going to be very tough for them.

They picked their squad to play a certain style based on the influence of Wales.

They are looking to attack like Wales, with big gain line runners, not much ball movement. You'll struggle to beat the All Blacks like that.

If they win the first Test they could win the series. If they don't, it might be a tough old series for them.

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While it may suit Jones to say that there should be more of an English influence to the squad, fears over their style of play was echoed in yesterday's Sunday Times by Shane Horgan. The former Irish international fears that Gatland could be the squad's "weakest link":

My worry is that this summer we could see two different philosophies: a group of players stretching themselves in the provincial games, and then the Test team reverting to type with a variation of Warrenball and the hope that Owen Farrell converts his kicks while Beauden Barrett misses.

If they go for the latter approach, they will lose. If they stick with the former, they may lose too but they will at least have given themsleves a chance. I'm not sure Gatland has the playbook and the tactical flexibility for this challenge.

In fact, I would be more confident if any of the other three home nation coaches were in charge.

So I ask myself: is Gatland the weakest link on the tour?

[The Telegraph; The Sunday Times]

See Also: Watch: Ian Madigan Lifting In A Line-Out Is All That's Right With The Barbarians

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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