Is Eddie Jones facing a player revolt?
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Eddie Jones was hailed as the saviour of the Australian game in January, when it was announced that he has replaced Dave Rennie as the Wallaby coach.
However, less than two months later – before he even took charge of his first game – it appears he already has a player revolt on his hands.
That is if you can believe the hostile and antipathetic Australian media.
According to a report in the Melbourne-based Herald Sun, players are up in arms over Jones courting Rugby League players.
A player agent has suggested this could result in Rugby Union players seeking employment abroad.
Reports of Jones courting NRL players have caused a stir Down Under, with Rugby League figures like Peter V’Landys and Blake Solly taking on the Wallaby coach in a rather bitter public spat.
According to the report Rugby Australia’s pursuit of Roosters star Joseph Suaalii has long been a media narrative making the headlines, while recent admiration for Cam Murray of the Rabbitohs has been a hot topic recently.
But Jones’ approach might be rubbing up Australia’s current players the wrong way, particularly in the wake of the loss of Wallabies loose forward Pete Samu to French club Bordeaux.
Player agent David Rawlings labelled the approach a ‘debacle’, as speculation about big money offers for League players continues floating around the media.
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“The players in general are sick of hearing about it,” Rawlings said in an interview with the Herald Sun.
“A lot of the boys are thinking, if they want NRL players, we’ll have to look elsewhere. It’s become a debacle.
“They’ve just lost Pete Samu to Bordeaux, who’s been in the rugby system for a long time.”
Two-time Super Rugby champion Samu is the latest in a long list of players who have taken deals overseas to capture their full market value.
The Japanese market has hoovered up talent in the last few years including the likes of high-profile Wallabies Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Rory Arnold and Quade Cooper.
In the emerging player tier also Australia has lost the likes of Isaac Lucas, and Harry Hockings and players now capped by Japan in Dylan Riley and Jack Cornelson.
There are already distinct signs that Stephen Larkham’s tutelage is bearing fruit for Noah Lolesio.
Rawlings blasted Rugby Australia’s handling of Brumbies star Tom Wright, who his company manages, calling on the organisation to look after those who made sacrifices during the COVID years to stay in Australia.
“We’re sitting here waiting to get a deal done after the World Cup,” he said.
“This is the current Wallaby fullback yet they’re talking about all the NRL players and million-dollar offers.
‘What about looking after your own? Loyalty works both ways. Look at the sacrifices the players have made in rugby.
“They all took a 50 per cent pay cut during COVID and didn’t get it paid back as the League guys did.”
Wright himself was an NRL player with the Manly Sea Eagles before switching back to the code he excelled at as a schoolboy.
He’s since had 50 caps for the Brumbies since joining them in 2019 and has played 22 Test for the Wallabies since 2020.
Sources: Herald Sun & RugbyPass