Durban — The Springboks are on high Eddie Jones alert as they look to end a three-game losing streak at Twickenham in their last game of the year.
Forwards coach Deon Davids says the Boks are on a high after their best performance of the year in beating Italy 63-21 in Genoa but he says the Boks know only too well that the wily Jones will have a trick or two up his sleeve on Saturday.
“Eddie is a very good coach, his record of producing shock results confirms that and he always has a few aces close to his chest,” Davids said from London. “It won’t be any different this week and we have to be spot on in how we execute our plans while being quick to react to what they produce.
“We are preparing for a very tough encounter but we will also have something up our sleeve and you will have to wait and see what we come up with.”
Jones produced rugby’s greatest-ever upset when he coached Japan to a victory over the Boks in Brighton in 2015. That was the World Cup hosted by England and when they could not get out of the group stages of their own World Cup, the RFU told Jones he could write his own cheque, and he has been head of the Red Rose army ever since.
The Boks have played England seven times since Jones took charge and the Australian is 4-3 up although he lost the big one, of course, in Yokohama in 2019.
One wonders what Jones said to his team at half-time last week when the All Blacks were walloping them off the park. There appeared to be no way the home team could come back but in the last minutes, they scored 19 unanswered points to draw 25-25 in one of the game’s most remarkable comebacks.
Love him or hate him Jones has an effect on people. He quite likes derailing the All Blacks, for example. England’s performance in ousting the Kiwis from the 2019 World Cup was masterful but for sheer ingenuity, I would go for the Wallabies’ shock World Cup semi-final win over the All Blacks in 2003 (when Jones was coaching Australia).
Jones’ encyclopedic rugby knowledge and incredible work ethic make him a very tough proposition. Many of his former assistants have said they could not wait to see the back of him because he is such a tough taskmaster.
Not that he cuts himself any slack. When he was the coach of Australia he pushed himself so hard that he ended up in hospital after a heart attack.
Davids says the England comeback has reminded the Boks just how much of a handful a team coached by Jones can be.
“It was a phenomenal comeback and it underlines how close the big teams are and how if one goes off the boil, the other can come right back. New Zealand have always been masters of the comeback and got a taste of their own medicine.
“The lesson is that it is never over until the last whistle at this level — both teams will fight right until the end and you can never ever switch off. You have to stay focussed.”