Eddie Jones has invited Jonny Wilkinson to join his coaching team after meeting with England’s World Cup winning fly-half at a supermarket.
The pair were adversaries in 2003 when Jones oversaw the Australia side defeated in the Sydney final, but last Saturday they exchanged views on how best to revive Red Rose fortunes after years of under-achievement.
Wilkinson has been performing a part-time coaching role at Toulon and by the end of the conversation that took place near England’s Surrey training base, he had been offered a position alongside Jones’ assistants Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard.
“We would like to get Jonny involved, but he’s quite a private person. We are having chats about it,” said Jones.
“I saw him down at Waitrose shopping with a beanie over his head. I had coffee with him.”
When asked what advice Wilkinson gave him, Jones said: “Get them kicking more”.
Apart from Wilkinson’s technical expertise, Jones believes the retired 36-year-old would also set an example through a work ethic that sees him continue to practise kicking for several hours a week. “After we had coffee he went and did a kicking session and he doesn’t play any more. Why was he one of the best in the world? Because he did that. That’s the difference,” said Jones.
“No-one tells him to do that because he is retired, but he still wants to be a good kicker. How many of these players do that now? Our job as coaches is to create that environment where players are encouraged to do that – we can’t tell them to do it.
“Anywhere in the world the good players tend to rise up and there should be a gap between the really good players and the average players.”