Under-pressure Wallabies coach Eddie Jones yesterday lashed out at “all the negativity” as the team departed for the World Cup after what he called the “worst press conference I’ve ever had in world rugby”.
The flailing Australian team is heading to France on the back of four straight defeats since the former England boss took over.
In a bid to get their campaign back on track, Jones named an inexperienced squad last week, shocking pundits by dumping veterans Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper and handing the captaincy to Will Skelton.
Jones is adamant there needs to be a generational change and didn’t hold back at Sydney airport when he was peppered with questions about their chances.
“I can’t believe all the negativity here boys,” he said. “I know what’s wrong with Australian rugby and part of you blokes are the problem because you’re so bloody negative about everything.
“We’re going off the World Cup and you think we can’t win, you think the selection process is bad because some players can’t play. So I apologise for that.
“We’ll go out there and do our best, boys. If you haven’t got anything positive to say, don’t ask.”
Cooper, who was widely expected to be on the plane as first-choice fly-half, has reportedly refused to return Jones’s calls.
Pressed on whether he had personally spoken to the 79-test veteran, Jones got even more flustered.
“I’m disappointed the player is upset, but all I can do is ring them. If they don’t take the phone call, you can’t talk to them,” he said.
“What do you want me to do? Tell me. Then why keep asking about it?
“I don’t know why you’re back to that,” he added.
“That’s probably reflective of Australian rugby, we’ve got to move on and we’re moving on to the World Cup.”
Australia will open their World Cup campaign against Georgia in Paris on September 9 before facing Fiji, Wales and Portugal in Pool C.
Only eight players in the 33-man squad have played at a World Cup before, with three debutants including scrum-half Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 18-year-old back Max Jorgensen, and prop Blake Schoupp.
But Jones insisted it was the “right balance of energy and enthusiasm”.
“We’ve got youth on our side, we’re ready to go,” he said.
“None of you guys think we can do any good, and that’s all right. The challenge for us as a group is to show you that we can, and show ourselves that we can.”
After 10 combative minutes, Jones lobbed one last grenade as left for the plane.
“Thanks for the worst press conference I’ve had in world rugby. That is the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said. “You ought to give yourselves uppercuts, boys.” – SuperSport.