Former All Black star Sonny Bill Williams has voiced strong criticism against Eddie Jones for his conduct during the Wallabies’ disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign.
Williams, known for his candid opinions since hanging up his boots, didn’t hold back in expressing his disapproval of Jones’s decisions and questioned the character of the former Wallabies boss.
Jones’s World Cup strategy involved bold squad selections, opting for a young side in France and leaving experienced players like Michael Hooper, Quade Cooper, and Bernard Foley behind.
The aftermath saw further controversy with reports suggesting a meeting between Jones and the Japan Rugby Football Union, leading to rumours of him potentially taking charge of the Brave Blossoms in 2024.
Despite Jones denying the meeting, Williams remains skeptical, asserting, “Obviously, he had that meeting. It says a lot about his character, to be honest.”
Williams criticised Jones’s track record, noting a pattern of burning bridges and questioned the accountability of such actions.
He remarked, “The things that he’s done, if he was a player, you wouldn’t stand for it. It’s quite nice that they are being held accountable, just like players are.”
The former All Black also took exception to Jones’s comments about Hooper, Cooper, and Foley, finding them “disgusting” and expressing his disappointment for the trio. Williams emphasised the need for dignity in departure, stating.
“The sad thing was that he couldn’t just leave with dignity. He had to leave with some firing shots by calling Hooper, Foley, and Quade not role model material? What does that make him?”
Looking ahead, Williams sees the controversy as an opportunity for a reset in Australian rugby.
He expressed support for Phil Waugh’s initiatives, particularly focusing on strategies in Western Sydney, and highlighted the importance of transparency and unity.
Williams believes that Australia, with its talent pool, has the potential for a significant resurgence, stating optimistically, “The only way is up.”
In conjunction with Williams’s critique of Jones, there has been a change in the Rugby Australia leadership, with Hamish McLennan being voted out as chairman, and Daniel Herbert taking over.
Williams commended the swift decision, reiterating his earlier concerns about Jones’s approach and emphasising the need to prioritise the public and players over egos. Reflecting on Australia’s recent successes under Dave Rennie’s leadership, Williams asserted, “The public deserves better, and so do these players.”