Jones bags Gregan the ‘referee’

Former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones has gone head-to-head with his former scrum-half, George Gregan, in a war of words ahead of the Super 14 Round Three match between the Reds and Brumbies in Brisbane on Saturday.

Jones, who now coaches the Reds and was once a stout supporter of Gregan when he (Jones) was first Brumbies and then Wallaby coach, accused the wily scrum-half of trying to take control of games with his constant verbal barrages on match officials.

Jones, who started coaching the Reds this year after being fired as Wallaby coach in 2005, has demanded that match referee Matt Goddard not be swayed by Gregan’s constant verbals in Saturday’s Super 14 match between the Reds and Brumbies.

Jones regularly spoke up for Gregan during his time as national coach when the Wallaby scrum-half general was criticised by the media for his form. He also defended the player’s “chatty” nature during games back then.

But that has now changed, given Jones’s comments that Gregan is too often allowed to take control of games.

Jones, who is renowned for his “mind-games” ahead of matches, has urged referee Goddard to take firm control of the Reds’ match against Gregan’s Brumbies.

“Matt Goddard’s very lucky because he’s got someone to help him referee the game,” Jones was reported as saying in Friday newspapers.

“I know he’s doing handstands, the referee. I’m sure George is going to help (fly-half) Steve Larkham play well and Matt referee well.

“Only thing I’m hoping for is that Matt Goddard referees the game and George doesn’t.”

Jones compared Gregan to former England captain Martin Johnson and former All Blacks skipper Sean Fitzpatrick for his ability to “manipulate referees”.

“George does influence referees,” Jones said. “He’s very good at it and he should be congratulated on it, but the referee should control the game. George is a great player. He’s one of those blokes brought up to referee games.”

Jones praised Gregan and Larkham’s influence, but hinted that they are at the end of their careers.

“They’ve been outstanding. They’ve won World Cups. They’ve won Tri-Nations. They’ve won Super 12s, won everything going around and their influence is still strong on the game,” he said.

“They are still the brains trust of a very vibrant and well-coached Brumbies side.

“But at some stage that influence has to stop, and I’d like to think on Saturday night we can dilute some of that influence in Australian rugby. Look, they are just getting older.

“You just can’t keep playing. George is approaching 34 and still influential. Is he as good as he was when he was 29? Probably not, but he’s still a pretty handy player. The one thing I’d like to do is contain his influence.”


365 Digital

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