Eddie Jones has moved swiftly to cover the loss of his attack coach with a familiar name joining him for the World Cup as he leans into his respect for rugby league.
Rugby Australia has announced a call up for Jason Ryles to replace Brad Davis, who it says is returning to the UK for personal reasons.
A defiant Jones said the Wallabies coaching staff would be improved by Davis’ replacement during his feisty press conference on Thursday.
On Friday his former England assistant Ryles was named – but he’s almost certainly a short term hire only.
Ryles played 271 games in the NRL, as well as representing Australia and New South Wales, before turning to coaching with the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters.
In 2020, Ryles joined England as skills coach on a full-time basis. However he missed the 2021 Six Nations Championship due to travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and left the role in May 2021.
Ryles is currently out of work after leaving the Roosters this season, two seasons nto a three year deal.
He was heavily linked to the Dragons head coach role before rejecting that to instead sign with the Storm for 2024. He’s believed to be the main contender to replace veteran Storm coach Craig Bellamy when he retires.
Jones said in a statement: “I would like to thank Brad for his efforts this year, and we wish him all the best for his future.
“Jason is the most sought-after coach in the NRL. He will add immensely to our coaching staff and help prepare the players to win the Rugby World Cup.
“We are thrilled to have him join the team.”
The Roar revealed on Thursday morning that Davis, who was announced as Jones’ attack coach in May, had quit effective immediately for “personal reasons”.
Jones had a pointed shot at Davis when he was asked about the situation at Sydney airport at noon on Thursday as the team prepared to fly out for France.
Asked why Davis quit, Jones responded: “Family reasons, mate. There’s an opportunity for us. And I think we’ll improve our coaching staff.
“We had a discussion a couple of nights ago.
“There’s a potential candidate ready to step up now. As I said, I think we’ll improve the coaching staff.”
He was asked to confirm it was Davis’ decision to stand aside. “Yeah, we had a discussion, yeah,” Jones responded.
All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell appears set to join injured lock Brodie Retallick on the sidelines for the team’s crucial World Cup opener against France.
The two teams open the tournament on September 9 (AEST) and their match is likely to decide which team tops their group.
The All Blacks left for France on Friday and coach Ian Foster revealed the in-form Frizell was struggling with an injury suffered in training.
Foster was already resigned to being without Retallick for several weeks after injuring a knee ligament against Australia in Dunedin.
“Brodie is progressing really well, and we’ll assess more next week,” said Foster. “He’s out of the South Africa game (at Twickenham on August 26, AEST) and likely to be out of the French game.
“And we’ve got Shannon Frizell who tweaked his hamstring two days ago doing a speed session. Again that’s probably a similar time-frame, so that’s a bit niggly for us.”
Frizell has been one of the All Blacks best so far this year and was the front runner for the No.6 jersey.
All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo’unga has expressed his anger at the judiciary reprieve to overturn Owen Farrell’s red card.
Speaking before World Rugby announced they would appeal the independent judiciary’s verdict, Mo’unga pointed at a 10-week initial ban handed down to Tongan player George Moala from a red card against Canada. That ban has been reduced to five games.
“It’s so disappointing that George Moala got ten weeks. My heart just breaks for him, so close to going to a World Cup. With him having a clean history and getting ten weeks, I thought that was pretty harsh,” Mo’unga was quoted as saying by Radio New Zealand on Friday.
“Then the Farrell incident after, someone who has history and who has been banned earlier this year, for them to turn around and say he’s got a zero week ban, it’s a slap in the face.”
RNZ said “the decisions have left Pacific Island players fuming.
“Moala’s Tonga teammate Pita Ahki and former All Blacks Steven Luatua and Lima Sopoaga, who will play for Samoa at the World Cup, were among many to make their frustration’s clear on social media, while player welfare advocates claimed it set a poor example and was at odds World Rugby’s push to decrease the amount of head injuries in the game.”
Wallabies rookie Tom Hooper says he’s benefitting from Eddie Jones’ man management style ahead of the World Cup.
“He’s a great motivator. He pumped me up to the media, but don’t worry, he’s very hard on me behind closed doors as well but that’s how I like to be coached,” Hooper told Rugby Australia’s official website.
“I really like someone who calls a spade a spade and that’s what he does for me. Every training session he has got something for me to work on… I want to be the best in the world one day and the only way I’m gonna do that is by having a coach like that who’s going to be tough on me and make sure that I’m achieving my best.
“When I do perform well, he’s the first one to shake my hand so that is exactly what I want from a coach: someone who’s tough but also rewards you once you get done the hard work.”
Jones has given a lot of public praise to Hooper, continuing in his pre-departure press conference on Thursday.
Jones said: “I think we’re gonna have a mighty back-row. Young Hoops has progressed really nicely over the period of time.
“If you look at the first Test against South Africa, he was struggling to make a tackle and by the end of the Rugby Championships, he made 20 tackles, carried over the top of All Blacks forwards and that’s the progression this team is going to make.”
HARRY JONES ANALYSIS: Is Tom Hooper a Test quality flanker?
Fiji winger Vinaya Habosi will make a welcome return as they take on Rugby World Cup hosts France in a warm-up fixture in Nantes on Saturday, his first international minutes this year after suffering an injury playing for his French club Racing 92.
The powerful runner’s selection is a big boost for coach Simon Raiwalui just weeks before the start of the World Cup, where they will face the Wallabies in their pool.
“Habosi has been knocking at the door and finally he has got a chance to showcase his talent,” Raiwalui said.
“It’s great news that he was cleared of injury and we are looking forward to seeing him and what he has to offer against France.”
Centre Semi Radradra, the former Parramatta Eels NRL star, will captain the side, with several other players based in France and able to provide local knowledge, including La Rochelle loose-forward Levani Botia, Bayonne fullback Sireli Maqala and Lyon wing Josua Tuisova.
Iosefo Masi will partner Radradra in the midfield, while Caleb Muntz is given a run at five-eighth and Frank Lomani will wear the No.9 jersey.
The back row of the scrum is made up of Botia, fellow flanker Meli Derenalagi and No.8 Viliame Mata, while Isoa Nasilasila and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta line up at lock.
Hooker Tevita Ikanivere will have props Eroni Mawi and Mesake Doge either side of him.
“This is one of the best opportunities to test ourselves in various areas. The whole team has been working hard for the past few days since arriving at Pornic and we are ready for the match,” Raiwalui said.
Fiji are in Pool C at the World Cup along with Wales, Australia, Georgia and Portugal.
France, meanwhile, have made 13 changes to their side, giving a last opportunity to players on the fringe of selection before deciding their squad for the tournament.
Only Gregory Alldritt, who captains the team, and centre Jonathan Danty remain from the side that scrapped to a 30-27 win over Scotland in St Etienne last Saturday.
The focus on the team for Saturday’s Test in Nantes will be the five-eighth position after an injury to Romain Ntamack, who has been ruled out of the World Cup after a serious knee injury suffered last weekend.
Coach Fabien Galthie starts with Antoine Hastoy, who has only three caps but can put himself forward as potential first choice No.10 for the World Cup, which starts next month.
The team also includes fullback Melvyn Jaminet, making his first appearance for France in a year.
Lock Paul Willemse, who has been recovering from injury, plays his first Test of the warm-up series.
The substitutes include uncapped Thomas Laclayat, who has been added to the squad after the injury suffered by Demba Bamba last Saturday.
France have played Scotland twice in warm-up internationals this month and will still take on Australia in Paris on August 27. They name their 33-man squad for the World Cup on Monday.
France’s first game at the tournament is against New Zealand at the Stade de France on September 8.