Eddie Jones has again ruled himself out of the running to coach the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand in 2017, vowing to make England the world’s best rugby side.
After leading the Red Rose to a Six Nations grand slam and now a first-ever series win in Australia, calls are likely to increase for Jones to take the helm of the Lions against the All Blacks next year.
The trip clashes with England’s scheduled tour of Argentina in June, prompting Jones last month to declare himself unavailable.
And despite the hopes of Lions team chief John Feehan, Jones’s mind hasn’t changed after retaining the Cook Cup.
“Completely unavailable,” Jones said.
“I signed a four-year contract to make England the best team in the world and I’m going to spend every minute I have doing that.
“So if I took the Lions job I’d have to spend anywhere from six-to-12 months not doing that.”
The Lions have never had an Australian coach.
However, Jones would be pleased if as many of his players as possible were unavailable to face Argentina, because it would mean their good form had continued.
“I’d be hopeful we’ll be missing at least 15. If we can get 15 in the Lions squad we will have had a good Six Nations, good November Tests,” he said.
England’s victory over the Wallabies in Saturday’s second Test in Melbourne saw them leapfrog Australia into second position in the world rankings.
Meanwhile, Jones said it wasn’t his concern who was made Lions skipper but England’s Dylan Hartley – who has become the country’s most-capped hooker – was emerging as a strong contender.
Axed from the team by former coach Stuart Lancaster because of his poor disciplinary record, Hartley has cleaned up his act and his players are following his fine leadership example.
“He’s doing a great job as captain,” Jones said.