When Bob Dwyer coached Eddie Jones at Randwick, he says it was clear from the outset the pint-sized hooker had the potential to become a great rugby coach.
Jones was an “intense student” of the game with great discipline and focus, who had enjoyed an unrivalled education in running rugby at Matraville High school and learned quickly how to do do more with less, often giving away 20-30kg in weight on his direct opponents.
In Dwyer’s eyes he had the knowledge, temperament and X-factor required to make it as a coach.
On the other hand, Michael Cheika – a cool, calm and collected kid who lived 400m up the road from Coogee Oval – not so much.
“It never occurred to me when (Cheika) was playing that he might become a coach,” Dwyer told AAP.
“But as soon as he became a coach, it was immediately clear he was a very good coach and was going to get better.
“I just thought he had everything going for him. He had his feet on the ground, his players loved him, and he had a solid long-term grounding in how to play the game properly at Randwick.
“When he applied for the job in Leinster in Ireland, when they asked me for a reference, I said at the end of the discussion, ‘let me sum it up this way: I see absolutely no reason why one day Cheik won’t coach Australia’.
“I didn’t realise what such a good call it was.”
Former Wallabies coach Dwyer is taking immense pride out of this month’s three-Test series between Cheika’s confident Australia and Jones’ recharged England.
Of all the greats of the game to come through the Galloping Greens, it is interesting that two who never played Test rugby themselves became successful international coaches.
Dywer says Jones was simply too small to make it at international level, while Cheika was close, but stuck behind NSW’s Tim Gavin and Queensland’s Sam Scott-Young in the pecking order for Australia’s No.8 jersey.