SHAUN EDWARDS: Full credit to England coach Eddie Jones for showing he’s not too old to change, Australia could do with his steely determination at the next World Cup… while Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne proved speed is king

  • England boss Eddie Jones has shown himself to be adaptable in charge
  • England’s 2-1 series win over Australia was their first Down Under in six years
  • Irish lock Tadhg Beirne was impressive, and quick, in a test against New Zealand

Over the course of this series, Eddie Jones has proved that you are never too old to change.

I have read the comments from England’s players, talking about how the coach has eased off. In the past Eddie has been work, work, work. Super intense. He has adapted to what is in front of him by allowing his squad some breathing space at the end of a very long season. Some guys have been playing for almost a year without a break.

Eddie comes in for a lot of criticism but this proved that he has still got so much to give. It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes back to Australia after the next World Cup. The Wallabies need a bit of his steely determination. When his contract finishes with England, I could see him taking up a director of rugby role over there.

England coach Eddie Jones, 62, still has a lot to offer ahead of next year's World Cup in France

England coach Eddie Jones, 62, still has a lot to offer ahead of next year’s World Cup in France

Wayne Bennett has just signed a three-year deal and he is 72. Eddie is 62 and his health is pretty good. What better way to end your career than guiding your home country to a home World Cup in 2027? He got pretty close in 2003 and I’m sure he would love another crack.

It sounds like Courtney Lawes and Ellis Genge have played a big role in the new England environment. They have both been outstanding but Freddie Steward is the player who really caught my eye. He can become a superstar. He plays for Leicester where players don’t get too far ahead of themselves.

The number of times he steals the ball in the air is incredible. Against France in the Six Nations, he stole the ball four times in the air. If you make four turnovers at the ruck you probably get man of the match! Height, speed, athleticism. He is the modern day back three player.

Tadhg Beirne was an important, and quick, part of the Irish side which beat New Zealand

Tadhg Beirne was an important, and quick, part of the Irish side which beat New Zealand

Some of the interventions by Tadhg Beirne during Ireland’s win over New Zealand were absolutely vital. The game is changing. In the past, people talked about the front-five and the back-row. Now it’s a back-five and a front-row. You’ve got guys like Beirne and Cameron Woki, who are incredibly fast around the park but are playing second row. They are built like basketball players. In France, we have the outstanding Paul Willemse but there are fewer big heavyweight second rows in the game now. It’s all about being quick around the park and first to the breakdown.

I was so impressed by Ireland’s performance. Their first half was the best 40 minutes of rugby from any team this season. It was probably more impressive than France’s first half against the All Blacks in November, when we didn’t drop a ball.

There has been plenty of praise for Andy Farrell but let’s not overlook the brilliant work done by Mike Catt in coaching the attack. They are so organised. It’s a modern-day phenomenon to send a lot of the attack down the short-side. Ireland are so good at it. Because of the line speed in the middle of the park, going one pass to the middle and then coming back is a tactic that works well for them. It helps having Johnny Sexton in the No 10 jersey with all of his experience. He is one of the greatest players of all time because he has done it consistently over a number of years. He is alongside Brian O’Driscoll as the greatest Irish player of all time.

For all Six Nations fans, savour these days because the north has been dominant over the last few weeks. Ireland will be hoping to be a semi-finalist minimum at the World Cup.


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