World Cup-winning Wallaby Owen Finegan is wondering how England’s Six Nations champions will cope with one of Eddie Jones’ famous temper tantrums during this year’s historic series in Australia.
Never before have Australia and England – century-and-a-half-old rugby rivals – ever contested a three-Test series.
And rarely before has there been a build-up like this one ahead of the June match-ups in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
But 13 years after being dumped from Australia’s 2003 World Cup squad, Finegan remains bitter and has questioned whether Jones’ famously abrasive coaching style will work with England’s Six Nations champions.
“Winning the 1999 World Cup was great but I really had my mind set on winning the 2003 World Cup,” Finegan said at the launch of the ARU’s new website rugby.com.au.
“So myself and Eddie aren’t the best of mates now.
“We trained for three hours at Narrabeen. Eddie was at the training session and decided to ring me when I was on my way home to tell me that I wasn’t in the World Cup squad.
“He then went up to Brisbane for a week’s training and said ‘if you need any more feedback, go and see Ewen McKenzie’ and I literally haven’t had a conversation with Eddie since that day.
“So myself and Eddie aren’t the best of mates now.”
Finegan, who won a Super Rugby title under Jones at the Brumbies, says level-headed fellow former World Cup-winning Wallaby Stephen Larkham – now in charge of the ACT outfit – was more his cup of tea.
“I can understand the way he organised people,” he said.
“Hence my last article on Stephen Larkham was about how you treat and get the best out of players.
“I am still keen to see how Eddie goes with England because they (the English) are a different personality.
“I am sure in Japan he can tell those guys what to do and have some of his tantrums. But I am not sure how that will work with the English culture.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, whose association with his ex-Randwick teammate Jones dates almost 30 years, dismissed talk that the coaching rivalry would be more interesting than the on-field action.
“That is not the case at all my friend. The game is played on the field,” Cheika said.
“Everyone can have a bit of a laugh about those things but, at the end of the day, the game is played on the field.
“Eddie knows that as much as anything else. There will be a bit of fun for sure once we go on the field, it’s going to be full on.”