Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones believes Kurtley Beale, the one-time wunderkind of Australian rugby, has stagnated and the Waratahs have no idea what they're doing.
In an interview with the ruggamatrix.com podcast Wednesday night, Jones did not hold back on many issues, saying that:
-James O'Connor was likely to head to the Brumbies because the Force were "run by cowboys";
-The Super 14 had dropped in standard because of the experimental law variations, which were a waste of time, and that too many senior players had departed;
-Expansion of Super rugby into Japan would not work.
But Jones, who is based in Japan and in charge of the Suntory team, directed his most stinging remarks at the Waratahs, saying that even though Waratahs were still in the Super 14 finals race they were a major disappointment.
"I don't think the Waratahs this year have looked as if they have moved on at all," Jones said. "They've certainly got the players to build on what they'd done under the previous regime. It's hard to work out how they're trying to play. Some of their first-phase executions have been quite poor and they haven't got the balance right at 10 and 12.
"[Tom] Carter is a good, strong player but is very limited. So when you play him there, you're going to be somewhat restricted in your attack. And Beale just hasn't developed at all.
"Again he looked like he was going to be something right out of the box. But at the moment his game has really stagnated. So I'm not sure what the philosophy of their attack is. To me, watching them play, they play like two teams. There's the forwards and there's the backs, and there's no idea of the forwards creating a platform for the backs to work off, and vice versa."
Jones has been impressed with his former Super 14 province, the Brumbies, believing they will become a major force next season if they secure O'Connor.
"I'd be very surprised he [O'Connor] stays at the Force, given that they're run by cowboys," Jones said. "I don't think he's that keen to have his career looked after by cowboys. The Brumbies are getting Matt Giteau, and if they get James O'Connor, they've got the nucleus to become the strongest team in Australia."
Jones lacks enthusiasm for the Super 14, having a direct dig at a group of former leading international coaches who assembled in Stellenbosch in South Africa and pushed for the introduction of many ELVs.
"They definitely stuffed up the laws," Jones said. "It just means that there has been a lot of wine drunk by old coaches in Stellenbosch, which has been wasted. The Super 14 has also lost so many of their senior players. They used to play until they were 30-31 and now they're going overseas at 26-27. There are also too many teams. Australia has suffered from having a fourth team, to the extent we have one good team and three moderate teams."
Jones is also mystified by Australia's eagerness to push Super rugby into Japan. "Rugby in Japan is funded by the companies. If there was to be a Super team in Japan, it would take away from the company competition. The only way it could happen is if it was the Japan national team. If that's the case, the Japan national team is not going to be run as an Australian franchise.
"So I struggle to see how Australia are going to benefit from Japan being in an expanded Super 14. Financially, the only way they are going to get any benefit is from extra television rights.
"Over in Japan, there are 12 free-to-air television stations, so pay-TV is not something people rush out to buy. About three years ago, only about 1 per cent of the population in Japan had pay-TV. So it's not a massive market over here, and rugby in Japan is only about the 10th or 12th sport, and it will only increase if they get the World Cup. So I think [ARU chief executive] John O'Neill is talking with a bit of bravado there."