England: Springbok pivot Handre Pollard feels it is too late to replace Eddie Jones

Springboks star Handre Pollard at a press conference. Credit: Alamy
Springboks star Handre Pollard at a press conference. Credit: Alamy

Springboks and Leicester Tigers fly-half Handre Pollard feels it is too late for England head coach Eddie Jones to be sacked with the World Cup less than a year away.

Jones is under immense pressure again after England’s poor Test season in 2022 that saw the Red Rose notch up a 42% win rate across the Six Nations, their July tour against the Wallabies and the Autumn Nations Series.

The Rugby Football Union are currently reviewing Jones’s position as speculation grows that the Australian-born coach will be replaced before the World Cup.

The Springboks were in a fairly similar position in 2018 when Rassie Erasmus and his coaching team took over one of the worst-performing South African sides and turned them into world champions in 2019.

Changes need time

However, Pollard insists that Erasmus’s vision only set in after 18 Tests and that any change within the England structures would have needed to happen earlier.

“It’s a difficult one,” Pollard said when asked if a new coach would have enough time based on his experience with the Springboks.

“It’s tough because you’ll basically have that Six Nations and a few warm-up games. It’s not a lot of time, so it will be tough. I’m not sure if it’s possible, but you never know.

“We felt Erasmus’ impact immediately because of the personality he is and the way he does stuff.

“But in terms of the rugby and on-field stuff, he said that with our new defensive system it will take 18 games. He knew that’s how long we had before the World Cup.

“It probably clicked a little earlier than 18 games, but I would say it took us a good year to find ourselves, really understand each other and know where we stood with each other. And then in 2019 we really kicked off with the results.

“The previous year 2018 was up and down when we were trying to find our feet. It took about a year I’d say.”

Borthwick has what it takes at Test level

Pollard’s coach at Tigers, Steve Borthwick, is one of the main contenders to take the England job, and the Springbok had nothing but good things to say about the 43-year-old’s coaching credentials.

“Steve’s definitely got the qualities to be an international coach. When that time will come we’ll see, but he’s definitely on his way,” Pollard said.

“Steve demands very high standards, we all know that. But it’s not a results-driven club, it’s about getting better day by day, regardless of whether we win or lose. Nothing changes.

“When emotion sometimes gets the better of some coaches, with him it’s every Monday, reset, and the same story.

“Win or lose we look to improve and it’s nice as a player. It’s not a roller coaster. Every week is the same.

“Steve is different. I’ve not seen anyone like him before. He really dives into the technical and analytical side of rugby, which is pretty cool. The game is developing so you have to stay with it. He’s great in that sense.

“He doesn’t speak too much but his all-round personality means you know where you stand with him, which is always nice.”

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