No conversations have taken place with England head coach Eddie Jones over a surprise switch to rugby league, despite the Australian topping the wish list of NRL side Cronulla Sharks.
A report emerged in Australia on Thursday that the Southern Sydney outfit, who currently sit in the bottom half of the NRL table after winning just one of their four matches so far this season, are keen on Jones even though he has made his name in rugby union for more than 25 years.
Jones would bring considerable rugby experience to any side he managed, having led Australia and England to World Cup finals and masterminding Japan’s breakthrough performance in 2015 as they defeated South Africa. The 60-year-old was also a part of the successful Springboks side that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007 under head coach Jake White.
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According to the Daily Telegraph, Jones is one of three names in the frame to replace current Sharks head coach John Morris, though The Independent understands that no approach has been made to either Jones or the Rugby Football Union and no private conversations have taken place.
Jones recently signed a second contract extension to take him through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup, having fallen agonisingly short of his goal last autumn after losing the final against South Africa. Having committed his future not just to union but to the England national team and RFU, a sudden exit to a completely new sport would come as a major shock.
But Jones is a known fan of what rugby league can offer and has not hesitated in tapping into the sport in an effort to develop his own players. Former Australia international Jason Ryles became a permanent fixture in Jones’s backroom staff earlier this year by becoming skills coach, having previously worked within the set-up in an advisory role, while others from the 13-man code to help out include fellow Australians Ricky Stuart and Andrews Johns.
One of Jones’s former teammates and coaching adversaries Michael Cheika, who shares a good relationship with Jones despite having his reign as Wallabies coach ended by him following last year’s World Cup quarter-final clash in Sapporo, is currently working within the NRL as a short-term coaching advisor with the Sydney Roosters.
Morris is contracted with Cronulla through to the end of the 2021 campaign, with reports of his job being on the line coming as a surprise given the NRL only resumed from the coronavirus hiatus two weeks ago. With a number of long-term injuries to key players, Cronulla already face a difficult season ahead, though registered their first win of the season against the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend and take on basement side St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday.
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