Eddie Jones has stressed that Ireland’s one weakness is the gulf in quality between Johnny Sexton and the next best out-half.
Sexton is still at the top of his game, although at 37 years old he is quite injury prone and is expected to retire after this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Since taking over as Ireland’s head coach, Andy Farrell has tried Joey Carbery, Ross Byrne, Harry Byrne, Jack Carty, Billy Burns and Jack Crowley as back up out-half, although none have truly put Sexton under pressure.
Speaking on his new podcast, Eddie Jones argued that Ireland are an average team when Sexton is not playing.
Eddie Jones on Ireland’s one weakness.
“The only weakness, if there is one of Ireland at the minute, is the gulf between Sexton and the next 10,” Jones commented.
“Sexton at 37 is getting towards the end of his career, but at the moment when he plays he’s physically capable of allowing his brain, which works at a pretty fast pace, to be advantageous for the team.
“He’s a real difference between Ireland being very strong and Ireland being average.”
.@wallabies coach Eddie Jones has launched his own podcast, ‘Eddie’ 👀
Catch the first episode now via your favourite podcast App.#Wallabies pic.twitter.com/QcjWUbbwKp
— RUGBYcomau (@rugbycomau) February 3, 2023
The Australian praised Irish players’ work ethic.
While Jones wasn’t overly complimentary of Ireland’s options at out-half, he did praise the team’s work ethic.
“Ireland I think are probably close to being at their best. I think Andy Farrell’s done a fantastic job on the back of what Joe Schmidt did,” Jones said.
“Joe Schmidt had the team extremely well organised, they played a very synergetic style of rugby. Quite structured, but good movement of the ball and they were a tough team to beat.
“I think Andy’s come in and has probably freed that structure up a little bit, so they play with maybe a little less planning and a bit more off the speed of the ruck. They’ve got great support players and they’ve got incredible work ethic.
“That’s the thing that strikes you; watch the Irish players, when they have the ball almost the entire 15 players are moving.
“They’re either moving into position to get the ball, or moving into position to get the ball in the next phase or moving into position if the ruck’s really fast to take advantage of that.”
Jones won’t be planning against Ireland in this year’s Six Nations, although he could do so at this year’s Rugby World Cup as Australia’s head coach.
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