Wallabies legend Mark Ella has urged close friend Eddie Jones to stay on as Australian coach despite strong reports that he’s in the box seat to return to Japanese rugby less than a year into his second stint with the national side.
Jones is set to front a media conference on Tuesday morning to address the speculation that derailed a shocking World Cup campaign in which the Wallabies failed to make it past the group stage for the first time.
Jones only took the Wallabies job back in January when he signed a five-year deal that would take him through to the 2027 World Cup in Australia.
But any hopes of the veteran coach staying put to help the next generation of stars get ready for the biggest rugby tournament on home soil appear dashed, with Jones set to have an in-person interview for the top job in Japan.
“It’s disappointing, that’s for sure, and I’m sad to see what’s happening with Eddie,” Ella said after he was elevated to legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
“He came here to be the saviour of Australian rugby, but that’s not what’s happening. I hope that he’ll get his act together and stay in Australia.”
Jones didn’t have long to put his stamp on the national team, with the Wallabies winning just two of their four matches in Pool C to finish third behind Wales and Fiji.
A relatively inexperienced squad was chosen with an eye to the future, but Jones was adamant that his side had the class to go all the way.
Ella is confident Jones is the right man to lead Australia and he can work his magic if he ignores other opportunities and finishes the job that he only just started.
“He only had five or six months this time to change Australian rugby before the World Cup and it obviously didn’t work, but he’s got to start again because he’s now got four years to actually get these guys back into shape and restructure the game and how we’re going to play,” the former Wallabies captain said.
“He needs to stay here so he can build us up from where we are because where we are right now is basically nowhere.
“We’ve got to start again and I hope Eddie is the person who makes Australian rugby successful again.
“I’m sad to see what’s happening with him because he’s a good guy who hasn’t had a lot of time, so he made some big changes and picked a lot of younger guys.
“It’s clear that he was thinking ahead a few more years.
“We can be much better (if he stays), but it’s a decision that he’s got to make.”
Ella knows what it takes to be the best at his craft, with the 25-Test veteran starring for the Wallabies and being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1987.
Such was his impact on the sport that he was elevated to legend status on Monday morning in Sydney, with seven-time world champion surfer Layne Beachley and AFL champion Bob Skilton the other Hall of Fame members to be elevated this year.
“I’m honoured. I played this sport because I love it. Every moment representing my country was a dream so I’m delighted,” Ella said.
“I’m honoured to think that after all this time I’m still recognised. It’s an honour that I never thought I’d ever achieve.”