Danger. Danger. Danger.
Eddie Jones is saying that he’s smiling too much. He is too nice to his players. And ‘maybe I need to be harder.’
Beware England players, you may only be three wins off from equalling the All Blacks’ 18-game world record of most Test victories in a row, but as far as Fast Eddie is concerned, that means zilch. As you opted to hit the ‘cruise control’ button and almost lost to France, you’re in for a horrendous week on the training track.
During Brumbies and Wallabies days, whenever players heard such dastardly comments from Fast Eddie, they would either suddenly contract life-threatening diseases, try to chop off their own leg, join the navy and then jump ship, prematurely retire, go AWOL, or come up with any excuse to miss training, because they just knew the next week would be unbearable.
They would be subjected to that grating migraine-inducing voice, which grinds and growls away at you, until you scream ‘NO MORE. NO MORE.’ That frightening Fast Eddie glare, known among the players as ‘the stink-eye stare.’ And those biting, often deeply personal put-downs, either one on one or in front of a packed but quivering audience.
The England coach says he has mellowed. Good luck. Not in weeks like this. He will back to his caustic best before heading to Cardiff next weekend.
Once again observing Fast Eddie was the highlight of an opening Six Nations round, which began encouragingly with a frenetic Scotland-Ireland encounter, before the standards slipped at Twickenham, and then were flushed away in Rome — with the Italy-Wales match a painful dirge.
All of us at the Sydney Sevens tournament — including numerous ex-Test stars and those who had played under Jones at provincial level — just wanted to know the latest on his slipping-on-the-bathmat fiasco that had led to such an impressive black eye.
As the number of drinks multiplied at the Sevens, so too did the theories- getting crazier the longer the day went. Many said that after England’s underwhelming effort, some of his players by the end of this week may be sporting something similar when they run onto the Principality Stadium next Saturday, because team training no doubt will be willing.
At Twickers, we wanted to see how the battered warrior looked. We had plenty of chances to observe that the shiner was now just a dark mark under his left eye, as the cameras often turn their focus on him during a game because TV producers know that, unlike many coaches, Fast Eddie is no robot. He shows his emotions- not quite in the Michael “Look at me scream, shout, blow up and wave my arms about” Cheika category — but he still gives you something.
Wearing a spiffing scarf and an enormous set of headphones, Fast Eddie was relatively subdued, but it was obvious he was irritated. After Australian referee Angus Gardner found another excuse to interrupt the first half, even those who are clueless at lip-reading could see that Fast Eddie had dropped the F-bomb.
At least the TV commentators did not have to apologise — unlike those in Rome who suggested that kiddies should cover their ears after someone in the Welsh team let out a few expletives that were picked up through the referee’s microphone.
This “@#$^ing @*%& ref” moment was the only highlight in that meander, where Wales only remembered in the 60th minute that they were in the Colosseum-city to actually win a game.
The best first round highlight was instead at Murrayfield when the Scots came up with a sneaky lineout move that made the Irish look downright dumb.
Scotland had the throw five metres out from the Irish line. Their scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, winger Tommy Seymour and centre Alex Dunbar snuck into the one, two, three spots in the lineout.
The Irish clearly didn’t see them tippy-toe their way in, and instead prepared to defend against a middle of the line Scottish throw. They obviously believed the home team would then attack out wide.
So, there was no-one standing opposite Dunbar. A short throw, an easy leap, and Dunbar dawdled over the line. The dumbfounded Irish just looked at each other and went: “D’oh!”
There was even a sillier moment. It occurred during the Rome game, when the commentators mentioned that former Springbok coach Nick Mallett thought Carlo Canna was “Stephen Larkham in the making”.
The Italian pivot, like the Wallaby maestro, is tall, skinny and wears No 10. That’s where the similarities end.