Eddie Jones believes France are favourites for the 2011 World Cup, while he feels the Springboks will struggle this year.
Marc Lievremont’s side completed the Grand Slam last weekend, and have also beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand and the Boks in Toulouse in the last year.
Jones, who coached the Wallabies to within a few minutes of the World Cup in 2003 and was a consultant with the Boks in 2007, backed the French for the title.
‘If I was a betting man, I’d back France [to win the World Cup],’ said Jones. ‘The only thing they’re missing now is two jumping locks. If they are able to find at least one jumping lock, they’ll be a very hard side to beat in New Zealand.
‘It’s been shown they play well there for some reason.’
Jones feels the Boks, Kiwis and Australians will be the other competitive units in 2011, but feels the Boks will not be at their best this year, similarly to 2006.
‘You’d expect New Zealand to do well. I think South Africa will struggle this year but will be strong for the World Cup.’
The Wallabies are clearly improving, but Jones said the tournament may have come at the wrong time for Robbie Deans’s young team.
‘Maybe it’s just going to be a bit too early for them. There’s a number of good young players around, but maybe it’s just one cycle too early for them.’
Jones has been impressed by the Reds’ young halfbacks, Will Genia and Quade Cooper, who should feature in New Zealand next year.
‘The nine and 10 at Queensland are just outstanding,’ said Jones.
‘Genia is a running halfback, he’s also got a beautiful pass and with the quick ruck ball he’s also been terrorising ruck defenders, and Quade’s the best 10 at varying his alignment. It depends on the speed of the ball; he flattens up when it’s quick and he gets a little bit deeper when it’s slow.
‘It’s only six or seven weeks into the competition, but certainly Genia looks like he’s a long-term prospect.
‘It’s their fourth year in the Super 14 now and I think it’s very important to understand that they’re now getting that maturity, starting to play at a high level.’