Rugby: Fast Eddie comes into his own at crunch time for England

Australian Eddie Jones is England's first foreign coach.
Australian Eddie Jones is England's first foreign coach.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Eddie Jones, who was appointed England's first foreign coach on Friday, is a master tactician with a fervent belief in hard work and a proven ability to outwit his peers on the biggest stages of the game.

The canny 55-year-old Australian has an unrivalled knowledge of the game and charisma to spare but behind the habitual cheeky grin is a sometimes sharp-tongued man with huge confidence in his own ideas and methods.

Whether England, or more accurately the Rugby Football Union, is ready yet for a "my way or the highway" coach - even after a humiliating World Cup campaign - may end up deciding how long it is before he ends up on the A316 out of Twickenham.

He left Japan because of what he perceived as the lack of ambition at the Japan Rugby Union and, as a man who understands the importance of the media, any gripes he has will not remain within the halls of "Headquarters" for long.

The task of transforming the fortunes of an underachieving giant of world rugby, particularly given the large pool of players and financial resources available to him, will certainly appeal, however.

With the Six Nations only a couple of months away, he will have to move quickly to identify the "point of difference" that England can bring to the game and the personnel to achieve it.

A move away from the power-obsessed, no-risk rugby that was so badly exposed at the World Cup can be expected.

Jones is infused with the Australian belief in creative attacking rugby and it is almost inconceivable that England's backline will not improve under his tutelage.

Jones, a former hooker, oversaw some of Australia's more humiliating days in the scrum during his time in charge of the Wallabies, however, and an experienced assistant to resurrect one of England's traditional strengths looks a must.

Jones steered a Wallabies side in decline to the 2003 World Cup final via a shock victory over the All Blacks in the semi-finals, out-witting New Zealand's John Mitchell before taking Clive Woodward's England to extra time in the title decider.

His record with the Wallabies against the All Blacks, the benchmark for all international teams, was five wins and six defeats.

He was an influential advisor to the 2007 World Cup-winning South Africa side and most recently orchestrated the biggest upset in the history of the game when Japan beat the Springboks.

"There's non-negotiables to coaching an international team - you have to have experience, you have to have a winning method and you have to show you can work with that union," Jones told Japan's Foreign Correspondents' Club this month.

He undoubtedly fulfils the first two criteria, whether he can manage the third over a sustained period remains to be seen.