'He just wants to win': Kearns on Eddie's record against Wallabies
Former World Cup-winning hooker Phil Kearns has said the Wallabies have got a job on their hands if they are to end Eddie Jones’ unbeaten record against his native Australia since becoming England head coach at Twickenham on Saturday.
England have won all seven of their Tests against the Wallabies under Jones, who was himself the coach of the Australia side beaten by England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final in Sydney.
“They have been better than us for probably all of those games,” Kearns, capped 67 times by Australia, said Wednesday.
“That’s a hard pill to swallow [but] it’s a completely natural thing for Eddie to want to do: to beat the nation he once coached,” added Kearns, a World Cup-winner in both 1991 and 1999.
Australia’s last victory over their old rivals was a 33-13 success at Twickenham in the pool phase of the 2015 World Cup.
It was a result that contributed to the hosts’ first-round exit and led to England’s appointment of Jones – who had overseen Japan’s shock defeat of South Africa at that tournament – to succeed Stuart Lancaster.
The teams’ most recent meeting saw England overwhelm Australia 40-16 in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
“He just wants to win,” said Kearns of Jones. “He’s a competitive guy, he drives his team hard and he’s very succesful. How do you knock that?”
Kearns was speaking at an event in London promoting Australia’s bid to stage the 2027 World Cup.
Their major rivals are the United States, with World Rugby due to make a decision in May as Australia look to host the tournament for the first time in 24 years.
‘Immature sport in the US’
But for all the commercial attraction of a World Cup in America, Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan suggested it would be better for the US to host the 2031 edition, by which time their national side might be more competitive.
“Rugby is still a relatively immature sport in the US and they’ve still got to build a team up,” said McLennan, speaking alongside Kearns.
“You saw the recent 104-14 score between the All Blacks and the US Eagles. I think they need time to invest in their team and build their stocks up.”
Australian rugby union operates in a hugely competitive domestic market alongside rugby league and Australian rules football.
But McLennan said the fact the 15-a-side game is truly international — the 2023 World Cup will be staged in France — meant some league players were considering switching sports.
“We’re seeing rugby league players looking at our calendar,” he added, with Brisbane staging the 2032 Olympic Games where rugby sevens is set to be on the schedule.
“We’ve got a [British and Irish] Lions tour in 2025 and, potentially, a World Cup in 2027 leading into an Olympics in 2032. Some of these guys are putting their hands up and saying: ‘We want to be part of that.’
“They realise the potential that exists.”