'It is distressing': Another England star opens up on Jones' sacking
SPOTLIGHT: England star Anthony Watson has paid tribute to departing national team coach Eddie Jones, describing him as “a world-class coach – and a world-class human”.
But the back-three flyer reckons that England will be getting a “ridiculously good coach” as a replacement should Steve Borthwick, as expected, take over from the Australian.
Watson featured in 39 England games under Jones, starting 36 of them, and has no doubt about the quality of the man who was last week sacked by the Rugby Football Union just nine months out from the World Cup.
“Eddie is a world-class coach – and a world-class human,” Watson said.
“He was the first to call me after three months to see how my ACL recovery was progressing, how my Achilles was going, taking time out of running a World Cup programme to send me off to do one-on-one speed coaching.
“There are very few people who can see the bigger picture like him. I am disappointed I won’t be able to continue to work with him.
“There aren’t many people who give up their entire lives to rugby like Eddie Jones does.
“It is distressing to see someone give up so much – and then get so much heat from outside – when he has dedicated his life to the game.”
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But with Jones’s seven-year reign over, probable replacement Borthwick has been given just as glowing an assessment by Watson.
Borthwick, a former England captain who became the team’s forwards coach, is the clear favourite to succeed Jones, having coached Leicester to a Premiership title triumph last season, while transforming them from relegation candidates to champions.
Watson, who joined Leicester from Bath earlier this year and is cruising into top gear after 10 months out because of a serious knee injury, said: “I don’t really want to get caught in the if or when of him going [to coach England], but what I will say is that Steve is a ridiculously good coach.
“Steve is straight down the line but an absolute legend, a guy who I would ride out for.
“He’s genuinely an honest bloke. He will tell you exactly how it is. There’s no sugar-coating it. Whether you like it or not, he is going to tell you.
“And, secondly, everything he says is backed up by evidence. I remember in pre-season he came up to me and we were talking about the breakdown.
“He said he had watched every one of my carries for the last two or three years and what I needed to do on the ground to make sure we can retain possession.
“I don’t know how many carries that would have been, but two, three years’ worth of carries is a decent amount. For him to trawl through all of that just shows you how dedicated he is.”