Jones denies Lions

Eddie Jones will not assist the Lions as a consultant due to his pending job with Suntory in Japan.

Lions CEO Manie Reyneke confirmed to this website that they were in talks with Jones, but the Australian has been summoned by his Japanese employers earlier than expected.

‘I don’t think it’s going to happen mate, Suntory want me there earlier,’ Jones told keo.co.za. ‘I would have loved to be able to be involved with the Lions, but circumstances didn’t allow.’

Although Reyneke denied that Jake White has also been in talks with the Jo’burg side, Jones acknowledged the fact.

‘Jake and I have been chatting about the possibilities, but it wouldn’t work out for the both of us,’ said Jones.

Jones was adamant the Lions had the resources to be higher on the log than their lowly 13th position at the moment.

‘They definitely have the players. They have a big tight five, running loosies, the halfbacks are good and of course they have Jaque Fourie, who is world class,’ he said. ‘They have the nucleus of a good team, a bit of fine-tuning is all that’s needed.

‘I can’t comment on the depth, but there is enough quality in the starting team.’

Jones was wary of passing judgement on the team from the outside, but highlighted their lack of appreciation for the territorial game as a weakness. It is no coincidence their best showing of the season against the Brumbies was also their most astute tactically.

‘There’s probably not enough kicking being done,’ said Jones. ‘It’s interesting to note the top four teams on the log at the moment are also the four teams who have kicked the most. A more balanced approach, in conjunction with their running game, would do them good.’

The loss of Jones is a blow to the Lions, but the idea was the right one. A consultant adding outside opinion could just be the tonic the coaching and playing staff need.

‘I don’t really want to comment from the outside on the structures as it’s difficult to make an educated analysis when you’re not involved from the inside.

‘But the Lions have been struggling for a number of years now and they need a turnaround,’ said Jones. ‘I cant comment on their structures, just the way they perform on the pitch, but they are one of South Africa’s biggest unions.

‘You want them and need them playing well.’

By Grant Ball