Eddie Jones could be forced into another shake-up of his England staff before next year’s World Cup with Anthony Seibold, his defence coach, linked to a top job in Australian rugby league.
Both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph in Australia have suggested that Seibold is the preferred choice to join the Manly Sea Eagles as a potential successor to Des Hasler, the National Rugby League side’s current head coach.
Seibold, who has only been in his current role for a year after joining the set-up at the start of last season, lives on the outskirts of Sydney and did not attend England’s most recent training camp this week.
It is understood that his absence was planned for and he is due to join up with the squad ahead of the autumn internationals against Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa. The 48-year-old is thought to be contracted until the end of next year’s World Cup.
Seibold has previously worked for the Sea Eagles and Melbourne Storm as an assistant before two NRL head coach roles with South Sydney Rabbitohs, where he won the 2018 Dally M coach of the year award, and Brisbane Broncos.
He switched codes to team up with Jones and has clearly encouraged England to compete aggressively at opposition breakdowns during his tenure. This trait was apparent in their most recent Test, a 21-17 victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground to seal a 2-1 series win over the Wallabies, when a number of turnovers foiled the hosts.
Jones has worked with three specialist defence coaches over his time as England head coach. Paul Gustard and then John Mitchell preceded Seibold. As recently as July, prior to the review of the Australia tour, Bill Sweeney, the Rugby Football Union chief executive, suggested that Jones would be allowed to alter his coaching ticket ahead of the World Cup.
“That’s his call,” Sweeney said. “We’ll do a full review when they get back. We’ll do analysis of how did it go, where do you feel it went well, where are the areas you feel you need to focus on more. We’ll get into that more when he gets back.”
It is unclear when Seibold would have to start at the Sea Eagles, but NRL sides stage pre-season matches in February. Jones does have form for refreshing his coaching line-up 12 months out from a World Cup. Mitchell only arrived as a replacement for Gustard in September 2018. Catering for the loss of Seibold would require a later contingency plan, of course.