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‘Worst thing’ Australia can do is sack Jones, says Mortlock

SYDNEY (AFP) – Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock has said “the worst thing” Rugby Australia can do is sack embattled head coach Eddie Jones, despite the team’s poor World Cup campaign.

Two-time champions Australia are on the verge of being knocked out in the pool stage of a World Cup for the first time after being routed 40-6 by Wales on Monday and following a shock defeat to Fiji.

Jones was appointed head coach in January, and Australia have lost seven of their eight games since.

The hammering by the Welsh saw Australia drop to their all-time lowest ranking of 10th in the world. Mortlock described Monday’s defeat as a “train wreck”, but urged rugby chiefs to back Jones to take the young Wallabies squad through to the next World Cup, hosted by Australia in 2027.

“As a coach and a leader, he’s unaccountable and he says that,” Mortlock told the BBC’s Rugby Union Daily podcast. “I respect him, in every sense of the word, that he wears it.

“The worst thing that Australia could do is suddenly get rid of him and say ‘no, you’re not the best man for the job’ only after six months or whatever it has been.

“Back your man – you picked him for a reason.

“It was all about building for an amazing runway in the next four years,” Mortlock added, with Australia hosting the British and Irish Lions in 2025 before a World Cup two years later on home soil.

Following the defeat to Wales in Lyon, Jones apologised for the result but denied Australian media reports claiming he had been interviewed by the Japan Rugby Union about coaching their team after the World Cup.

Jones has been criticised for bringing an inexperienced Wallabies squad to France.

“He rolled the dice with youth for this World Cup campaign. I actually respect that,” added Mortlock, 46, who played 80 Tests for Australia, 29 as captain.

“But the flip side is, it doesn’t work quickly, which it normally doesn’t with young players.

“You need time to play together to build up combinations and cohesion.”

Eddie Jones. PHOTO: AP