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Jones the right man to lead Wallabies: Haylett-Petty

Former Wallaby Dane Haylett-Petty admits he was blindsided by the call to axe coach Dave Rennie, but believes Eddie Jones is the right man to lead the team forward.

Rennie’s shock sacking was announced on Monday morning, with the New Zealander paying the price for a poor 2022 where the Wallabies won just five of their fourteen Tests.

Jones, who coached Australia from 2001 to 2005, has been re-appointed to the top job on a five year deal after being let go by England last month.

Haylett-Petty, who played 38 Tests for the Wallabies between 2016 and 2020, said he didn’t expect a move to be made with just months to go until the World Cup in France.

“I couldn’t see it coming, I was shocked, I think like everyone else. Obviously a huge call, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I see the thinking behind it,” Haylett-Petty told Sports Breakfast.

“I think it’s a shame for Dave, who’s obviously been building towards something, and he’s built a lot of depth, so he’s done a great job there, but unfortunately in the sports industry, it’s pretty brutal, and if you’re not performing, and his win success rate wasn’t too great, that’s obviously what happens in sport.

“Everyone knows it’s a bit of a golden period coming up for Australian rugby, with the World Cup, there’s a Lions tour, and then there’s a home World Cup, so I think Australian rugby has decided Eddie’s the man who’s going to lead them through that period.”

The 33 year old, who retired in 2021 due to ongoing struggles with concussion, said Jones would drive high standards.

“You can’t really argue with Eddie’s record at World Cups. I was quite surprised when England got rid of him 12 months out from a World Cup, and I think his win success rate at a World Cup is something like 85, 90 percent, which is unbelievable,” he said.

“For him to have two cracks at a World Cup with a lot of depth in Australian rugby now, I think it’s quite exciting.”

“I think there’s a lot of belief within the players that they can compete with the best, pushing Ireland and France, top two in win the world, on that spring tour away from home, so hopefully Eddie can come in and just add the cherry on top and pull that group together.”

While the former Western Force and Melbourne Rebels fullback believes Jones is the man for the job, he acknowledged changing coaches in a tournament year was a risk.

“I think there’s probably a little bit of disruption early on now, a lot of the players don’t know Eddie, don’t know what they’re in for, I think it’s going to be a tough nine months or probably the next five years under Eddie,” he said.

“Obviously it’s a short build-up, but there are some games, I think there’s probably five or six games to get your plans going pre-World Cup, and then there’s your pool games.

“You need some games to pull together, but it can be done.”

The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be held in August and September, with the final scheduled for the Stade de France on October 28, before the showpiece tournament hits Australian shores in 2027.

IMAGE: The Telegraph.

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