Ten crucial questions for Eddie Jones before Bloemfontein

Harry Jones Roar Guru

By Harry Jones, Harry Jones is a Roar Guru

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    Eddie Jones had Rassie Erasmus floored, gasping for breath, punch drunk, after twenty minutes of rugby at Ellis Park.

    Without question, the first 100 minutes of Erasmus’ Springbok coaching career had been a nightmare. Has any Bok coach had a worse first hundred minutes?

    In one of the lamest offensive displays of rugby in Bok history at derelict RFK Stadium in Washington D.C., Erasmus’ team lost by a double charge-down to a Wales B team.

    Then, the Bok nation watched one of the worst defensive quarters in any Tier One Test team’s history, in Johannesburg. Makeshift wing Mike Brown knocked over half of the Bok backline en route to the first try, Elliot Daly slid in untouched, and then Owen Farrell laughed gleefully as he jogged in with nary a green jersey in the picture. 24-3 after 20:00 and after the Brown try, all of England’s breaks were so clean, tackles weren’t even missed.

    A clear path, no rush, no drift, no nothing.

    Lukhanyo Am has been one of the form outside centres in Super Rugby for two seasons, but it looked from his positioning like he had never played with Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, and Willie le Roux. Because he hadn’t.

    Rassie Erasmus

    New Boks coach Rassie Erasmus. (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

    Rassie’s team was devoid of any tested combinations. None. A new coach, a new captain, no caps; only 320 or so in the squad, with a third of those belonging to one Bok prop.

    Eddie Jones must have been licking his lips, imagining the post-test Pinotage and his juicy ‘I told you so’ press conference oratory, explaining his genius for basing the team at sea level, splashing about in the Indian Ocean, his ‘Brad Shields is a Bok-beating lock’ gambit, his karate training regimen, and the Brown-Daly switch.

    Daly’s 60 metre thumping kick must have punctuated Jones’ reverie: “I’ve hijacked the Saffas’ altitude advantage!”

    Boks fans were all having nightmarish flashbacks of Albany and Brighton. I was thinking maybe Eddie really does have savant Saffa-beating skills.

    But then …

    A strangely calm Bok squad got the ball, and everything sped up. The pack churned up to Super Rugby level warp speed, with Duane Vermeulen acting as a spine, Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard took everything to the line, and Willie le Roux acted as maestro, with two Bolt-like wingers inventing blindsides, coming down tramlines in duo, and finishing everything.

    The floodgates opened, and would not close until oranges; 56 points later, and the half was over.

    Eddie must have been even more shell-shocked than Rassie. Where was his Billy-motored chariot? Why couldn’t Brown and little George Ford keep the Boks in front of them? Why does every kick seem to land in Thor’s brawny arms? Why do we seem shocked that Wasp Willie dummies a defence?

    After the match, for the fifth time in a row the losing coach, Eddie was gracious about Siya Kolisi’s historic leadership, the quality of the Boks’ comeback, and the passion of the home crowd. He seemed to enjoy the journalists’ questions.

    But what are the questions he will have to answer for the second Test? Here are ten I can think of. What are yours?

    1. How do I use my new Kiwi toy? Is he a breakdown answer? A six? An 8? What exactly is Shields’ point of difference?
    2. How do we survive the second half scrums? Really. How? It’s a real question.
    3. Should I slow it down? How? Walk to the lineouts, or throw in quickly? Test the Bok wings with high kicks? Or keep pushing it wide?
    4. How do I cover for Ford on defence? Pollard was going over or around him like he was pudding.
    5. Is Billy match fit? How unfit is he?
    6. How can I fix our breakdown? Is Robshaw out on his feet?
    7. Should we get a new hotel? At altitude?
    8. What’s wrong with Itoje?
    9. Leaving aside the first try, is Brown able to wing it?
    10. Will I ever have a better first 20:00 against the Boks?

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    The Crowd Says (131)

    • June 12th 2018 @ 6:07am
      Carlos the Argie said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      Very nice piece!

      The English team actually looked mentally tired. Normally, when they are so much ahead, their arrogance and confidence makes them unbeatable, but this time they did not exude this.

      It was remarkable to see the two smallest guys plus Thor bring the Boks back.

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 6:36am
        Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:36am | ! Report

        Yes, and before we hear about tired NH players, Faf and Willie looked fresh as daisies! Plus, Pollard and Mostert have played 1,000 minutes of SR!

        • Columnist

          June 12th 2018 @ 11:39am
          Geoff Parkes said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

          Not making excuses for England Harry, as I’m sure you’d understand, but Faf and Willie weren’t on the Lions tour and haven’t had anywhere near the international rugby intensity over a couple of years that many of the English team have had.

          It’s not an absolute reason for their capitulation, and won’t be used by them as an excuse, but it has to be a factor.

          Some nice questions, Eddie will be having a very trying and testing week!

          • June 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm
            Suzy Poison said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

            That’s true Geoff, good point. Two other Saffas, Bismark and Frans Steyn were both pulled because of niggles.

          • June 12th 2018 @ 1:01pm
            woodart said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

            many of the british players are tired, but that is mostly the fault of the english clubs, not eddie jones.if the poms do get done in the remaining games, jones will be blamed, but much of the blame should also be aimed at english clubs.

          • Roar Guru

            June 12th 2018 @ 9:24pm
            Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

            Hi, Geoff!

            Yes, it’s true that a guy like Itoje has played more test rugby than PSDT, but I think the variance is overstated by many journalists in the UK.

            PSDT’s travel over that same time, real GPS on the field, etc. I doubt it’s a big difference.

            • Roar Guru

              June 13th 2018 @ 2:06am
              Harry Jones said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:06am | ! Report

              I took a look at the big-minute England forwards and their SA counterparts, over the last 5 years.

              English forward stalwarts log about 2,000 minutes per season, with a bit more Test duty in the mix.

              But, SA adversaries are not far off that (1,800 or so) and MUCH MORE TRAVEL. A lot more.

              A guy like Mostert or PSDT have wild travel schedules in SR and RC; and some also play in their “off season” in Japan.

              Finally, the pace of SR is higher. This is well-measured by GPS. The English coaches bemoan this fact, actually, when they are preparing for Tests against the SH teams.

          • Roar Guru

            June 13th 2018 @ 8:29am
            stillmissit said | June 13th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            Geoff, what do you mean too much rugby?
            It is up to the coach to ensure they are fit and mentally ‘up’ for the game. If his team was tired and disinterested, and it looked like it to me, then he should have picked a team that would be up for it.

            My guess is they thought they were in for an easy/big win and were desperate to have that and forgot about the road to get there. It is never easy in test rugby…

            I think the Eddie Jones factor is turning back into the normal monster we know too well in Australia!

            • June 13th 2018 @ 2:29pm
              hopalong said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

              A good article Harry accompanied by incisive questions.
              I fear an English comeback born of desperation.
              And,of course, complacency on our part.

        • June 12th 2018 @ 4:25pm
          cuw said | June 12th 2018 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

          @ Harry Jones

          ‘Our son has opened up a can of worms… but don’t blame him’: Brad Shields’ parents defend his switch from All Blacks to England

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-5832029/Brad-Shields-parents-defend-switch-Blacks-England.html

          • Roar Guru

            June 13th 2018 @ 8:32am
            stillmissit said | June 13th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            I thought he played a good game for the pommies in the time he was on the field. Could be the best thing Eddie leaves behind him when the door slams on him!

            • June 13th 2018 @ 2:58pm
              cuw said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

              something common with both Eddie and Chieka is the preference to put guys outside their preferred positions.

              Shields i doubt has played at 2nd row during the last 2 years competitively. even in an emergency !
              becoz Hurricanes had Vaia Fifita and Blade Thompson.

              other funny thing was what Eddie did to Isiekwe – before that match he built him up as the best young athlete he has seen blah blah. then he pulled him after 30.

              he did same to Teimana Harrison some time back.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 6:15am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:15am | ! Report

      Well written Harry, I like your reference Pollard went through or over Ford like he was pudding. 😂

      Unfortunately I saw a number of runners go through Pollard like a warm knife through butter too.

      Joking aside, I am more concerned with our defensive organisation, who is running it? Surely not Am, he is still tooinexperienced. De Allende? Oh boy, we needa steady experienced head in that midfield.

      Would like to see Esterhuizen as he knows Am better, but then still questioning who is runnning the defensive organisation.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 6:20am
      taylorman said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:20am | ! Report

      Nice, great to see the Bok and Wallaby fans upbeat again Harry, long may it continue. I bet Shields cant believe what hes walked into😀

      He’ll wana get back to the Canes asap.

      • June 12th 2018 @ 6:47am
        Dan said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:47am | ! Report

        yep was thinking the same, although the money side of things will help the back pocket

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 8:05am
        Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        Shields would’ve certainly preferred to show the English fans his level of play in a loose forward position…

        • Roar Guru

          June 12th 2018 @ 10:53am
          Ralph said | June 12th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Shields at lock? For an international debut?

          Arms in the air, head shaking, walking away.

          I have no answers.

          • Roar Guru

            June 12th 2018 @ 6:59pm
            taylorman said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

            Did someone not tell Eddie Shields was a loosie? I blame his support team😂

            • Roar Guru

              June 12th 2018 @ 7:16pm
              Corne Van Vuuren said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

              I have been refraining from commenting on that particular selection issue, but you have to wonder what went through Eddie’s mind there

              • Roar Guru

                June 12th 2018 @ 8:21pm
                taylorman said | June 12th 2018 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

                He probably missed Chicago with Kaino as well.🙄

              • Roar Guru

                June 12th 2018 @ 9:25pm
                Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

                I think he started to see a Cane captain as a “magic bullet.”

                He has that flaw.

                Fetishizes players …

        • June 12th 2018 @ 1:02pm
          woodart said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

          and wearing a Black jersey…..

        • June 13th 2018 @ 9:24pm
          Dan in Devon said | June 13th 2018 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

          I regard Joe Launchbury as the best lock in England. Everytime I see him play he makes an impact. Why he is not in the starting team is a mystery to me.

          • June 13th 2018 @ 9:43pm
            Fionn said | June 13th 2018 @ 9:43pm | ! Report

            Absolutely, Dan. Launchbury is world class. Surely he and Nakarawa are the standout locks in the northern hemisphere?

          • Roar Guru

            June 14th 2018 @ 5:29am
            Harry Jones said | June 14th 2018 @ 5:29am | ! Report

            Calf injury, Dan in Devon.

    • June 12th 2018 @ 6:36am
      Dan said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      To many World Class players in this England team Harry, far to many….not

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 8:06am
        Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Launchbury will be an upgrade. Possibly need to inject a new 9.
        Switch Daly and Brown, for defence.
        And if you gonna use Shields, do it at 8.

        • June 12th 2018 @ 10:41am
          Perthstayer said | June 12th 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report

          Harry,

          Ford issue being over complicated. Farrell 10, Daly centre, Brown full back, Watson and Solomona wings.

          Farrell closes the channel, immediate positives.

          MV on bench, great power sub. Shileds as 7.

          England take field as underdogs and SA with less to “prove”.

          I’m looking forward to a decider 3rd test

          • June 12th 2018 @ 12:24pm
            Highlander said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

            Farrell misses 1 tackle in 3 – no matter the team, no matter 10 or 12
            Brings an awful lot but does not close a channel

            • Roar Guru

              June 12th 2018 @ 11:57pm
              taylorman said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:57pm | ! Report

              Yes, fans had even convinced themselves that he was licensed to charge up over the gainline in D to force the ball carrier to run inside him and get caught that way.

              Hows that working for them now? I mean some stats are there for a reason and I dont recall a condistently high number of missed tackles being ‘a good thing’. 😂

        • June 12th 2018 @ 6:07pm
          cuw said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

          @ Harry Jones

          1. How do I use my new Kiwi toy? Is he a breakdown answer? A six? An 8? What exactly is Shields’ point of difference?

          he is a quick 6 with all round abilities – drop Robshaw. the problem was Robshaw is anyway slow and Billy V came in hald baked after so many injuries during Aviva season. add to it Nathan H was also injured and rarely played during the last few weeks as i recall.

          2. How do we survive the second half scrums? Really. How? It’s a real question.

          need to introduce the subs in tandem with saffa team. they keep Macko V till end – very few props will have such engines to be effective.

          3. Should I slow it down? How? Walk to the lineouts, or throw in quickly? Test the Bok wings with high kicks? Or keep pushing it wide?

          they play slow anyway – any more slower and they will be timed out like in cricket !!! given their pack lacks the pace or the stamina , they shud play territory and try to keep saffa team in their 40m.

          4. How do I cover for Ford on defence? Pollard was going over or around him like he was pudding.

          Drop Ford and start Cipriani – many thought he was the best 10 in Aviva , but not Eddie. in fact he was planning on playing Cips at 15 !!!

          5. Is Billy match fit? How unfit is he?

          as aid above he is half baked – he had injuries one after the other in recent time. the problem as said above so did Nathan Hughes. one option is to play Shields at 8 😀

          6. How can I fix our breakdown? Is Robshaw out on his feet?

          He is too slow . they shud play shields at 6 or play Sam Symonds at 7 .

          7. Should we get a new hotel? At altitude?

          i think what they need yesterday is a defence coach – am not sure if Gustard is touring, coz he joined harlequins as coach. the last 2 matches has shown their primary and biggest issue is defence.

          8. What’s wrong with Itoje?

          nothing – he is not the “great ” player many make him out to be. being a boy of color and uni graduate and all fit the storyline for marketing in England – but he is just another good player.

          I will take launchbury anyday.

          9. Leaving aside the first try, is Brown able to wing it?

          NO – Sir Clive wrote ” he is 15 or does not play!” am sure the only world cup winning coach knows something 😀

          10. Will I ever have a better first 20:00 against the Boks?

          it is within the realm of possibilities 😛

          • Roar Guru

            June 12th 2018 @ 9:26pm
            Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

            I don’t think even ABs ever had that good a first 20:00 in SA.

            • June 13th 2018 @ 2:48am
              cuw said | June 13th 2018 @ 2:48am | ! Report

              DUDE

              being a saffa – am sure u know better than me , it is the last 20 that counts playing at altitude.

              the pace England started – happy to see them last till the end. and close….

              in fact England did well to lose by 3 – in rare air !!!

              dont count them out – at sea level , they just mat have that bit more in the tank 😀

              • Roar Guru

                June 13th 2018 @ 3:17am
                Harry Jones said | June 13th 2018 @ 3:17am | ! Report

                CUW

                England looked fine in the last 20:00.

                It was the second 20:00 in which they (a) failed to kick to the corners and (b) failed t chase kicks…

              • June 13th 2018 @ 3:15pm
                Suzy Poison said | June 13th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

                CUW, the next test’s in Bloemfontien. But you are right, I expect the Poms to win in Cape Town in the third test.

            • June 13th 2018 @ 9:47pm
              Rugby Tragic said | June 13th 2018 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

              Hmm Harry, hate to remind you but Albany in 2016 might have even been a bigger nightmare … the 1st 10-15 mins by memory it started as a it of an arm wrestle then NMS and Reiko Ioane cut loose and HT score was 31(?) but the All Blacks never let up …

              • Roar Guru

                June 14th 2018 @ 5:30am
                Harry Jones said | June 14th 2018 @ 5:30am | ! Report

                Yes, that’s why I carefully typed “in SA.”

                hahahahahah

    • June 12th 2018 @ 6:43am
      Kane said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      11. How should I sign my resignataion letter?

      Yours truely?

      Regards?

      Thanks for nothing?

    • June 12th 2018 @ 6:44am
      Dan said | June 12th 2018 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      Itoje is useless, dont believe me, watch a replay and fix your eyes on him only and look at his work rate. On a scale of 1 – 10 I give him a 2 (try or no try) Taking the lineout ball is were he gets his 2. Every lock including reserves in super rugby Id rate ahead of him

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 7:32am
        Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        To be fair to Maro
        I think his job
        Was to shadow
        Faf!

        That would exhaust even a 9!

        • June 12th 2018 @ 7:11pm
          Just Nuisance said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

          I also got that impression . If we are correct it was a poor call. Faf’s forehead lines up with Itojes …um ..waist. Can only result in a high tackle.

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