EDDIE JONES, England rugby union’s head coach, had an instant impact on our players on his visit to Hull FC last week.
I knew he was a big rugby league fan and how much he loves the game. I think he’s a big South Sydney supporter. He grew up around that area.
It was a really good experience having him around training for a couple of days. And it was funny when he spoke to the lads. He engaged with the players really well. I sensed they were hanging on his every word. That’s because he immediately spoke on their level rather than down to them.
That’s just great skills, the sort of ‘soft’ skills we talk about. Man-management. But it was amusing because the first line Eddie Jones said was how lucky all the boys were – and us as coaches – to be involved in ‘The Greatest Game.’
He said, unfortunately, he’s only involved in the second greatest game! He had the boys straight away.
Whether he believes that or not who knows! But he certainly got a good laugh out of the players and they, like us coaches, enjoyed having him around.
I’d never met Eddie Jones before and only seen him in interviews mainly after coaching England. My first memory of him was probably when he coached Japan to that famous win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup. You see it as a big scalp.
But now, having met him, you see some of the reasons why he might have had such success with a such a team as Japan but also then with England and previously Australia,
It also reminded me of when I visited Melbourne Storm. The first thing they warned me was not to expect that golden nugget of information that will unlock all my coaching issues or to expect the secret to success.
It was very much similar with Eddie. The striking thing was he just came across as a really genuine bloke who really cared for his players.
One of his messages was to always enjoy what they were doing. He always wanted his players to have smiles on their faces. That’s not to say he’d make things easy for them. He did say you had to be in tune with what your players need, not necessarily what they want, but understanding them throughout a period of time and knowing when and where to do things.
That’s the man-management side of it. We’d all do the analytical, tactics and skill-based stuff but the soft skills of managing a side are important.
That’s particular so for someone like Eddie Jones when he only sees players in relatively short periods of time. Some of the questions he asked me were around that sort of stuff.
Knowing I’d only just finished playing six months ago, he said the one thing he wanted to tell me was not to never forget what it was like to be a player.
He said all the things you value as a player and enjoyed, not to ever forget those as the next generation will be exactly the same. I thought that was a really good point. It just reaffirms what you’re doing.
You search sometimes for the missing piece of the puzzle when really it’s probably just underneath your nose and you need to just realise it.
I got to ask him a few questions and he was quite keen to ask us questions. Everyone got a chance. It was a great experience.
Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.