Eddie Jones. (Photo by Daniel Puckett/Getty Images)
- Australia coach Eddie Jones has admitted that they will face it before their final encounter in the Rugby Championship against New Zealand.
- The Wallabies head into the Melbourne cricket hole-in-the-wall after back-to-back defeats by South Africa and Argentina.
- New Zealand will win the title if they win the match – or earn a losing extra point.
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones admitted Saturday that his struggling team is a “severe underdog” against the “red hot” All Blacks next weekend, but said it could work in their favour.
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Australia head into Melbourne cricket hole-in-the-wall after back-to-back rugby championship defeats to South Africa and Argentina, leaving the former England coach with losing streak since taking charge.
On the other hand, New Zealand succeeded in beating the Springboks and Pumas, which made them favorites to win again as they prepared for the World Cup in France.
“In this situation this week we’re hugely underdogs,” Jones said on a Zoom call from the Australian training base in Queensland. “But this creates an opportunity for us.
“We know that if we can put pressure on a team that is the favourite, sometimes that pressure can turn into more pressure on them and tension in the team, and that’s our goal.
He added, “If you look at Australia right now, maybe nobody outside of our immediate team thinks we have a chance of winning, which can sometimes lead to a little more closeness within the team, a little bit more purposefulness about what we’re doing.”
Jones was brought in to replace the omitted Dave Rainey this year after the team lost nine of their 13 internationals last season.
But it was a rocky start to his second stint in the job, falling 34-31 to Argentina after a 43-12 win over world champions South Africa.
He admitted that they did not live up to expectations, but suggested that they could be useful for the World Cup in September and October, as “teething problems” had now been identified.
“I have no doubt that we are not clear about how we want to play as we want to play,” he said. “The only problem I see with that is that we don’t play as well as we want to.”
“But in the run-up to the World Cup, these kinds of teething problems are sometimes the best problems you have.
“And sometimes you discover more about your team in these situations than when you think things are going well. And they don’t get along so easily.”
Still experimenting, Jones is trying to decide the best team to take part in the World Cup, with Tom Wright and Reese Hodge appearing among those dropped for the All Blacks game.
He noted that the team lacked alignment in defense and offense about collapsing against Argentina.
“That’s part of the issues we have at the moment,” he said. “It’s an issue of understanding – understanding what we need, what decisions the players need to make.”
Co-captain Michael Hooper missed the Pumas game with a calf injury and is racing to be fit.
“Calf injuries, we tend to be more careful with their rehabilitation than other injuries, so the medical staff handles it very carefully,” said the trainer.