Ben Youngs says ‘very good coach’ Eddie Jones has a lot to offer Japan

Ben Youngs has warned England that Eddie Jones remains an elite coach whose second term with Japan will be driven by his recent failures.

Jones and Steve Borthwick will go head to head for the first time when the Australian and his former number two clash in the master and apprentice duel that underpins England’s tour opener in Tokyo on Saturday.

It has been just 18 months since Jones was sacked by the Rugby Football Union for a downturn in results, yet before returning to Japan he squeezed in a disastrous homecoming with the Wallabies that ended when they failed to emerge from the group stage of last autumn’s World Cup.

But the 64-year-old has the highest win rate of any England head coach with 73 per cent and Youngs, his first choice scrum-half for the whole of his seven-year reign, insists he is still a formidable operator.

Eddie Jones looks puzzled as he gears up to address his Australia players
Eddie Jones’ second spell with Australia was ended by a World Cup group exit (Adam Davy/PA)

“Eddie is honestly one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. Tactically, he’s very, very good,” said England’s most capped player, who will be in action for Barbarians against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.

“For whatever reason it didn’t work with Australia. That doesn’t make him a bad coach. He’s still a very good coach. He’s still very intelligent in how he sees the game.

“We had a really successful time at England. We had some tough periods, of course we did. But he’s honestly one of the best coaches I’ve had.

“I’m sure he’ll embrace the challenge of Japan. I’m sure he’ll bottle everything how it unfolded with England and how it unfolded with Australia.

“You just know that because of what he’s like as a character, he’ll be taking Japan back to the World Cup in Australia.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if suddenly Australia and Japan are in the same pool – that’s just the way the stars align with him – and he would love it.

“Rugby needs characters like Eddie and he brings a lot of entertainment. He divides opinion, I get that, but if I got the opportunity to work under him again I would jump at it.”

The battle of the coaches is a fascinating sub-plot to a match that should see a revamped Japan team swept aside by England ahead of their first Test against New Zealand in a fortnight.

A stunning victory over Ireland and heroic last-gasp defeat to France put a shine on the Six Nations for Borthwick’s men, who are close to full strength for opponents they dispatched with ease at the World Cup.

“As soon as this fixture was announced I thought ‘that’s going to be an entertaining week’,” Youngs said.

“Steve will want momentum leading into the first game against New Zealand. England were really positive in the last two weeks of the Six Nations when the style complimented the team.

“Eddie will want high ball in play. He’ll want to shift England around. He’ll want the ball in and out of the scrums. England equally want to scrum, want to maul.

“Eddie and Steve are very tactical coaches so it will be quite interesting how that plays out.

“In terms of them both personally, without doubt they’ll both take satisfaction if they win.”

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