LONDON - Red Rose great Jeremy Guscott has warned coach Eddie Jones "will have to change his ways if England are going to have a chance of winning the World Cup next year".
Jones came under fire during England's recent six-game losing streak, that included five Test losses in a row and provoked speculation the outspoken Australian could be replaced before Japan 2019. Such a change would require a U-turn by England's Rugby Football Union, which only a few months ago gave former Australia and Japan coach Jones a contract extension taking him beyond the World Cup.
And it was made to look less likely when England ended their winless run with a 25-10 victory over South Africa in the third Test in Cape Town on Saturday, albeit the Springboks won the three-match series 2-1. Jones has been criticised for a supposedly autocratic management style, while Bath owner Bruce Craig questioned a gruelling training camp regime he says leaves players too exposed to the risk of injury.
Nevertheless, Jones still retains a lot of credit with Twickenham chiefs after guiding England to successive Six Nations Championship titles following his arrival in 2015 when they had just suffered the embarrassment of being knocked out in the first round of a World Cup on home soil. But Guscott, an outstanding England centre, said Jones had to change course, writing in a BBC Sport column that "there are adjustments to be made and he has to realise some of those adjustments are with himself.
"He needs to stop battling the press and when they ask silly questions, ignore them." The 52-year-old Guscott, who won 65 caps for England and a further eight for the British and Irish Lions, added: "No-one is asking him to change completely, but certainly some adjustment is required."
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Guscott's comments came after RFU chairman Andy Cosslett stopped short of guaranteeing Jones would be in charge at the World Cup. "You're asking for unconditional support but only my children get that. And even then not always!" Cosslett told reporters.
"Eddie came to our union when it was at its lowest ebb after the World Cup. He grabbed it and took us on this extraordinary run. He has tremendous credit at the union for what he's done...We've had a reversal, which now hopefully we've sprung out of." Looking to the next 12 months, Cosslett said: "It's a huge year in front of us and we're interested in hearing Eddie's plan and how it's changed as a result of South Africa."
Meanwhile Guscott said Jones had "made a mistake" in not playing fly-half Danny Cipriani from the start of the South Africa series. But in the third Test it was Cipriani's cross-kick that led to England wing Jonny May's decisive try.
When Cipriani kicked, however, England captain Owen Farrell turned his back in seeming protest at the stand-off's decision. "As a captain, Farrell should not be doing that and as a player, he should have been chasing the ball," said Guscott.