Eddie Jones should be given an extended contract as England coach in recognition of his achievements since taking charge, according to Australian counterpart Michael Cheika.
Jones was appointed after a defeat by his native Australia saw hosts England knocked out of the 2015 World Cup in the pool phase. He began life as Red Rose boss in stunning style with 17 consecutive wins — a sequence that included a Grand Slam and a Six Nations title.
His present contract runs to 2021, subject to a break clause related to England’s performances at next year’s World Cup in Japan. But a run of five successive defeats, spanning this year’s Six Nations and the opening two Tests of the South Africa tour, saw his position called into question.
However, beating the Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday would mean England had won three out of their four November internationals, with the lone reverse a one-point loss to world champions New Zealand.
“Call me thick, but I can’t understand why he’s been getting grief,” said Cheika of Jones.
“How many games has he won here with England? What about the job he did after the World Cup? Maybe they’re giving him grief because he’s an Aussie.
“The team’s ranked fourth in the world, playing lots of good footy (rugby), so I’m not sure what people are looking for. Perfection? That’s never happening. You win some games, you lose some games.
“He’s definitely won more games than he’s lost so I’d be wrapping him up and signing him up for another four years.”
Victory this weekend would give England a perfect played six, won six record against Australia under Jones, but Cheika insisted they got along fine despite the head-to-head mismatch.
Cheika, who has known Jones since playing in the same side at Sydney club Randwick, told the press: “The only people who think we don’t have a good relationship are you chaps.
“We’re mates from playing footy together, we’re friends, we’ve got a lot of respect for each other from football days, his daughter works for us (Chelsea Jones is the Wallabies’ team logistics manager), she’s here with us on tour.
“Sometimes your friends, you’ve got to become enemies, and we will be on Saturday, but there’s no beef (argument) between us.
“If anything when he does well, as long as it’s not against us, I’m very happy for him.”
Jones was Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England courtesy of Jonny Wilkinson’s extra-time drop goal in Sydney.
“What I will say about 03, Australia came from nowhere and Eddie should be proud of the job he did,” insisted Cheika, in charge when the Wallabies were beaten by the All Blacks in the 2015 final.
“He got us within a couple of seconds of winning the World Cup and it wasn’t expected at all.
“We’ve just got to make sure he doesn’t do the same with the other mob (England).”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Michael Corry)