JOHANNESBURG – South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus’ decision to bring on board Felix Jones as an attack coach is already paying dividends, with Ireland coach Joe Schmidt particularly concerned about the insider knowledge of the new Springbok appointment.
As it stands at next month’s Rugby World Cup, Ireland and South Africa look likely to meet in the quarter-finals.
And it’s here where Jones’ insight will be useful in feeding Erasmus information about Ireland’s various game strategies and defensive patterns and structures.
Jones was part of the Irish coaching staff on a tour to Japan in 2017.
During his playing days, he was a fullback and he played under Schmidt. As such, he certainly has a good idea of what the Ireland coach is all about. It’s this that has Schmidt worried.
“It’s an awkward situation with Felix, I’d a long chat with him yesterday,” Schmidt told RTÉ Sport.
“Well, it’s awkward because, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, he came with us to Japan the last time, so he was right in amongst us. So, you don’t have to ask really, do you?
“He was with us, he’s seen everything that we deliver, and would have a great knowledge of even the language we use in our camp, so it’s awkward for us.
“There were a couple of opportunities here,” Schmidt said about coaching gigs for Jones in Ireland, “but I’d be a massive fan of what Felix has got to offer in the future, and it will be a great learning experience for him.
“I just hope that we don’t suffer as a consequence because he’s a smart coach, he already knows a lot about us.
“And if we do get to a quarter-final, it has to be either New Zealand or South Africa or Italy that we do play against.
“That would mean that he would be directly opposite us on a coaching bench.”
Schmidt said he couldn’t change the language of the team that he referred to with regards to Jones at this late stage.
“Not really, because things happen so fast and sometimes if you have some prior knowledge and you say ‘this means that’ and ‘that means this’, sometimes when you’ve fatigued, you’re adding clutter, and not giving clarity,” the New Zealander said.
“In the end, you need to be clear. So if they become too cluttered, that might be a good thing.
“I can’t control what Jonesy does. Those days are gone.
“Once he played fullback for me and I had a little bit of influence, but even that, having coached him, he’s a champion player, a champion bloke, and I think he’s going to be a really good coach.
“I just hope he delays that by a couple of months and is pretty average for the next two months. That would be good.”