Jones keeping cards close to his chest on flyhalf dilemma
NEWS: Coach Eddie Jones has vowed to protect the Wallabies flyhalf in their sudden-death World Cup pool clash with Wales, although he’s yet to reveal if that will be Carter Gordon.
The youngster bore the brunt of the backlash from Australia’s historic 22-15 loss to Fiji which threatens to end their Cup campaign at the pool stage.
Gordon was yanked from the Stade Geoffroy Guichard match in Saint-Etienne after 50 minutes, unable to ignite the Wallabies attack and making a costly blunder.
Playing just his seventh Test, Gordon was at fault for Fiji’s only try, misjudging his jump to claim an up-and-under with the ball bouncing for Fiji’s blockbusting centre Josua Tuisova to run to the line.
While he made the second most carries in the team, he also conceded four turnovers on the end of some ferocious Fijian tackling.
Without giving away his selection, Jones said he had already decided who would wear No.10 against Wales in Lyon on Sunday (Monday AEST), expecting the Australian to be a target as Gordon was for Fiji.
“100 percent, we know who we want to play (at 10) and you’ll get that at the proper time,” he told reporters.
“There’s no team in the world that doesn’t target the opposition 10 – they are the conductor of the team and if you can get to them you get to them.
“There’s various ways you can look after your 10 and we’ll have a look at that this week.”
With Jones ignoring the World Cup claims of veteran playmakers Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley, he has no choice but to back Gordon against Wales or turn to Ben Donaldson, who has started both games at fullback.
Jones praised Donaldson’s contribution when he shifted to five-eighth to replace Gordon but to be fair he benefited from some tiring Fiji defence and quick delivery from reserve halfback Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.
The reserve forwards also gained some ascendancy in the final quarter after the Wallabies were badly beaten early on by the Fijians.
“Our young finishing bench did really well when they came on and and put us in a position to win the game but we weren’t quite good enough,” said Jones.
“But I was really impressed with what the young guys did at the end.”
Also leaving long-time skipper Michael Hooper and the versatile Pete Samu out of the France squad, Jones needs more from his players at the breakdown, too often isolated with the Fijians forcing 11 turnovers.
“We got beaten badly in that area,” he conceded.
“The previous weekend against Georgia, we were really, really good.
“I think just the start of the game we got a little bit shocked by the physical intensity of the Fijians and that put us off our game a little bit so we’ll need to tidy that up this week.”