EDDIE JONES has condemned the previous England regime’s handling of Sam Burgess and is convinced the latest rugby league recruit Ben Te’o will succeed where he failed.
Dewsbury-born Burgess departed union having completed just one season of his three-year contract at Bath due to his disillusionment at the hosts’ World Cup performance, the criticism of his selection and the ongoing debate over his most suitable position.
Now Te’o has been fast-tracked into England’s squad for their three-Test series against Australia and is in contention to start the opener in Brisbane on Saturday at inside centre.
The 29-year-old has been taken under the wing of skills coach Glen Ella, a former Wallabies full-back, but Jones believes that he has already proved himself during two seasons at Leinster.
“Burgess was a non-event in England’s confused strategy at the World Cup, but he would have been an excellent Test player if he’d had the will to stick at it,” Jones told an Australian newspaper.
“Rugby league is not a skilful game, it’s a game where you’ve got to hurt people.
“Tough guys like Te’o bring something extra to a squad, a bit of an intangible, plus he’s done the hard yards in 50-odd games for Leinster.”
Jones has played a central role in the development of seven former league players who have State of Origin experience with Te’o the latest in that lineage.
The Australian believes exposure to the annual three-match series between Queensland and New South Wales offers a telling indicator in the likelihood of a successful change of code.
“There is a massively high correlation between those who have been successful Origin players and then made a really good fist of rugby,” added Jones
“If they haven’t done that there’s a huge correlation with them being average rugby players. That’s why I have high hopes for Ben Te’o. He’s cut it at the highest level of rugby league.
“Playing Origin means you can cope with the physicality of the most physical game in the world and you have the ability to handle the pressure of Test rugby situations.
“I saw one clip where Ben took the ball to the line and threw a short pass after carrying through the line on his previous play.
“He can mix it up with a good short-passing game and can off-load in contact like a more athletic version of (former Australia centre) Rod Kafer. He can hit.”
Former Australia captain Phil Kearns, meanwhile, predicts Jones will only provide England with short-term success, believing his “fanatical” methods will eventually stop working.
“I think in the short term they will be incredibly successful over the next two to three years,” when asked about the impact likely to be had by Jones.
“The big question is what happens after that?
“He is a very astute coach but there is a point where the fanatical work ethic goes too far.
“There’s not a lot of people in the world of Eddie Jones. There’s one bloke and that’s him. That’s his world.
“I actually think he is a good guy. But he is massively intense, massively hard working and he ensures his team works hard to the point - I have heard - of overtraining them and really pushing them to the limit.
“I’ve heard a couple of the guys in the Japan team say they would never play under him again because they could not keep up with the workload it was so intense.”