After returning from Japan where he passed on “golden” coaching tips to the All Black Beauden Barrett, Eddie Jones has relocated to Yorkshire’s east coast to spend two days with Hull FC in an “advisory role” before the Super League club’s game against Catalan Dragons on Monday.
Having raised eyebrows by heading out to continue his coaching work with Suntory Sungoliath following England’s fifth-placed finish in the Six Nations, Jones is a guest of rugby league as part of a reciprocal arrangement with the Hull FC head coach, Brett Hodgson, a fellow Australian who has previously visited the England union camp.
Studying the methods of coaches in other sports has become commonplace but Jones’s timing is interesting, with England’s summer series squad to be named early next month. Some within English rugby have been wondering aloud if Jones’s time – given his well-remunerated contract with the Rugby Football Union – may be better spent mentoring English union coaches or monitoring potential squad players.
It is understood, however, that Hodgson was considered as a potential replacement for England’s Australia-based skills coach Jason Ryles, who was unable to take up the role during the Six Nations because of logistical problems related to Covid travel. Jones has never been shy of recruiting league expertise and spent time with Warrington in 2019.
England, who are due to play Tests against USA and Canada at Twickenham on 4 and 10 July respectively with an England “A” side facing their Scottish counterparts on 27 June, are looking to identify replacements for the 11 players selected for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa.
The RFU, though, says it has no issue with Jones’s role with Suntory, a longstanding arrangement dating back two decades, despite the awkward scenario of an England coach being paid to offer help and advice to a key player from one of his squad’s main World Cup opponents.
Another familiar English rugby figure, meanwhile, is back at home after a stint in Japan. Saracens have confirmed Alex Goode has returned to the club after his loan spell at NEC Green Rockets and will be available for the closing stages of the Greene King IPA Championship season.
The 33-year-old full-back, who has made 302 appearances for Saracens and won 21 caps for England, has been away since October. “I had a great time in Japan and am very appreciative of the opportunity but it feels really good to be back.,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing my part in a huge period ahead for the club.”