Jones predicts Oz golden era

2013-05-29 14:27
Eddie Jones (AFP)
Cape Town - Former Australia coach Eddie Jones believes the British and Irish Lions could find the going tough in their upcoming tour Down Under, and claims the Wallabies are on the verge of a new golden era.

The Lions' last series triumph was in South Africa in 1997, and many pundits have predicted that this will be their year, especially with Australia struggling in recent times under coach Robbie Deans.

Deans has come under severe criticism over the last few years, as his team have consistently played second fiddle to rivals New Zealand.

The coach is trying to build a younger, fresher team and his provisional 25-man squad for the Lions series contains just two players over 30: hooker Stephen Moore and No 8 Wycliff Palu.

And Jones, the current head coach of Japan, believes the wave of young Australian talent will overwhelm the Lions.

“It’s probably the worst time for the Lions to come over,” Jones told the Sport360° website.

“Australia have a lot going for them, for the first time in a while we’ve got a real group of good, young players so I think the tours are going to be just as difficult as the previous tours with the Lions.

“The Lions haven’t done very well in recent years but they will be well prepared by Gatland, they’ll be strong, they’ll be muscular and they’ll be committed to a certain way of playing. It’s going to be a fantastic contest.”

With a vast array of talented individuals, Jones believes Australia look well set for the future.

“Robbie has brought in some good things, but we haven’t been able to get close to the All Blacks, and the Australians judge themselves against the All Blacks.

“But I think Will Genia is the best half back in the world by a mile, Quade Cooper is one of the best stand-offs in the world and then you add (David) Pocock and (James) Horwill and you have all those bits and pieces for a particularly strong team.

“I think a change of identity has been coming for a long time. We haven’t beaten New Zealand consistently since 2002 but now you have all these good players coming through at once. (James) O’Connor, (Liam) Gill, (Michael) Hooper all these young players are coming through together at the same time.

“And this is what happens in Australian rugby, you get golden ages and I think a golden age is coming.

“It’s just circumstance, just a group of players coming together at the same time. Same as England in 2003," said Jones, referring to the great England team that won the 2003 World Cup with stars such as Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson among their ranks.

The first of three Tests between the Wallabies and the Lions is played in Brisbane on June 22.

Australia squad:

Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), James O’Connor (Rebels), Nick Cummins (Force), Joe Tomane (Brumbies), Israel Folau (Waratahs), Digby Ioane (Reds), Rob Horne (Waratahs), Berrick Barnes (Waratahs), Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies), Will Genia (Reds)

Forwards: Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Benn Robinson (Waratahs), James Slipper (Reds), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Saia Fainga’a (Reds), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), James Horwill (Reds), Sitaleki Timani (Waratahs), Rob Simmons (Reds), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), Liam Gill (Reds), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), Scott Higginbotham (Rebels), Ben Mowen (Brumbies), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs)


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