All Blacks wary of Wallabies ‘tricks’ under coach Eddie Jones

Despite a horrendous start to his second coming as Wallabies coach, the All Blacks are on high Eddie Jones alert ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup opener in Melbourne.

It’s for good reason with Jones boasting one of the best coaching records against New Zealand in world rugby.

The 63-year-old has coached against the All Blacks 14 times with a return of six wins, seven losses and a draw.

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His record with the Wallabies is 5-6, behind Rod Macqueen’s remarkable 5-2 return while Bob Dwyer won just seven of his 21 Tests against the All Blacks.

Notably, Jones knocked New Zealand out of two Rugby World Cups at the semi-final stage – with Australia in 2003 and England in 2019.

“When they play us they go up another level and with Eddie Jones at the helm now, he’ll have a few tricks up his sleeve,” All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown said.

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“They would have stewed on a disappointing couple of weeks so we know they’ll bring their ‘A’ game. I have no doubt they’ll come in with plenty of belief.”

Saturday’s MCG showdown will be Jones’ first Bledisloe Test since 2005 at Eden Park.

His response to an 0-2 start to the Rugby Championship has been to keep talking tough, warning the All Blacks to “look out” in Melbourne and then claiming Ian Foster’s 2-0 side were yet to be put under pressure in 2023 despite holding off a strong second half comeback from the Springboks.

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“Eddie, I love you mate, I just love you for that,” All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan said on The Breakdown, available to stream now on Stan Sport.

“Jose Mourinho, who was Chelsea coach, Man U, he’s now in Rome, and that’s what he used to do. When the team wasn’t going like he wanted, he would deflect and that’s a great skill. After South Africa, Eddie has a go at the journalist. ‘What are you talking about, man? Who are you to say I said that was the ‘B’ side?’

“I think that’s the beauty of the man. He will deflect pressure off the team and he’s probably pretty genuine. In behind the scenes he’s probably going: ‘we’re heading in the right direction’.”

But while Kirwan is an unabashed Jones fan, another All Blacks great, Jeff Wilson, has been critical of his selections.

Wilson is bemused by Jones picking Quade Cooper at No.10 ahead of Carter Gordon and also questioned the composition of his squad against the Pumas.

“The Brumbies had six (in the Wallabies 23), now they were the best performed Super Rugby team. The Rebels were terrible, they didn’t even make the playoffs but they’ve got six Wallabies (in the 23),” Wilson said.

Eddie warns All Blacks to ‘look out’

“You start going well, they’ve got individual talent? Well, hold on. Winning’s a habit. For a lot of these guys, I don’t think they’ve tasted it. And now he’s trying to work out, one, how they want to play, and I’m not sure they’ve got that quite right.”

The Wallabies and All Blacks will name their teams on Thursday.

Rebels star Andrew Kellaway is expected to replace the dumped Tom Wright at fullback while Waratahs weapon Izaia Perese is tipped to come in for the injured Len Ikitau at outside centre.

It would be Perese’s first Test start.

“He’s really elevated himself, he’s got a great attitude to learn and is impressing us all round,” Jones said.

“He wants to go, mate. He’s off the long run, he’s banging it in short and not waiting for anyone to tell him what to do. That’s the sort of player we want.

“It reinforces the point I keep making. Australian rugby is at its best when we’ve got a bit of arrogance, got a bit of aggression, got a bit of boldness and we’re going at the opposition. It always has to come with smartness. That’s the team we want. A team that goes at the opposition.”

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