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Handre Pollard: It's too late for England

SPOTLIGHT: Handre Pollard believes England has left it too late to sack Eddie Jones.

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The injured South African flyhalf shared this view, after recalling how it took Rassie Erasmus over a year to transform South Africa into World Cup winners.

Jones’ position is in doubt, following a disastrous year-end campaign that produced only one win in four Tests.

It was England’s worst year since 2008, and a decision on the coach’s future is due from the Rugby Football Union next month.

The RFU must decide whether to stay loyal to Jones despite results or to replace him knowing the World Cup opener against Argentina is just nine Tests and 10 months away.

South Africa was in a similarly precarious position when Erasmus took over in March 2018, yet by the end of the following year, he had turned them into global champions.

Erasmus’ Springboks revival is frequently held up as an example of how a nation can be successful at a World Cup even with a late change of coach but Pollard, their flyhalf general, insists the revolution did not happen overnight.

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When asked if based on his experience Jones’ replacement has the time to make England a force in France next year, Pollard said: “It’s a difficult one.

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“It’s tough because you’ll basically have that Six Nations and a few warm-up games. It’s not a lot of time, so it will be tough. I’m not sure if it’s possible, but you never know.

“We felt Erasmus’ impact immediately because of the personality he is and the way he does stuff.

“But in terms of the rugby and on-field stuff, he said that with our new defensive system it will take 18 games. He knew that’s how long we had before the World Cup.

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“It probably clicked a little earlier than 18 games, but I would say it took us a good year to find ourselves, really understand each other and know where we stood with each other. And then in 2019 we really kicked off with the results.

“The previous year 2018 was up and down when we were trying to find our feet. It took about a year I’d say.”

A leading contender to replace Jones is Steve Borthwick, his former number two and now Director of Rugby at Pollard’s new club Leicester.

Pollard has been limited to one aborted replacement appearance for Tigers against Saracens in late September and is not due back until Christmas at the earliest, but he has already seen enough of Borthwick to know he would make a good England head coach.

“Steve’s definitely got the qualities to be an international coach. When that time will come we’ll see, but he’s definitely on his way,” Pollard said.

“Steve demands very high standards, we all know that. But it’s not a results-driven club, it’s about getting better day by day, regardless of whether we win or lose. Nothing changes.

“When emotion sometimes gets the better of some coaches, with him it’s every Monday, reset, and the same story.

“Win or lose we look to improve and it’s nice as a player. It’s not a roller coaster. Every week is the same.

“Steve is different. I’ve not seen anyone like him before. He really dives into the technical and analytical side of rugby, which is pretty cool. The game is developing so you have to stay with it. He’s great in that sense.

“He doesn’t speak too much but his all-round personality means you know where you stand with him, which is always nice.”

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