SYDNEY (AFP) – New Wallabies coach Eddie Jones yesterday declared that he’s “not the messiah”, but he is aiming to win this year’s World Cup in France.
The polarising veteran has been lured back to coach the national side after Dave Rennie’s shock axing earlier this month.
Starting his second stint in the top job – which he held between 2001 and 2005 – Jones said Australian rugby needed to rediscover a “certain panache”.
“What wins World Cups and the hearts of people are teams that play with spirit,” he told reporters.
“We want pride back in Australian rugby. That’s the most important thing.”
Australia slumped to sixth in the World Rugby Rankings after a disappointing 2022 tour of the Northern Hemisphere, where they lost to Italy for the first time.
Despite their poor run of results, Jones said the Wallabies would be contenders at the World Cup in September.
“We’ve got to win the World Cup. If we win, it changes things for rugby in Australia.
“There are about six teams that are separated by a thin paper. It’s so tight.”
Jones held his first press conference since starting the job at Matraville Sports High, the Sydney school where he famously played with legendary Wallabies flyhalf Mark Ella.
Signed to a five-year contract, Jones said it was his mission to strengthen Australian rugby.
“I’m not the messiah,” he said.
“Everyone is in this together, but sometimes you just need someone to beat the drum.”
New Zealander Rennie, who took over from Michael Cheika at the end of 2019, was fired after only five wins from 14 Tests last year.
Jones coached the Wallabies to the final of the 2003 World Cup in Sydney, which they lost to England in extra time.
A renowned hard taskmaster, Jones was sacked by England in December last year.