Former Wallabies star Morgan Turinui has delivered a scathing reality check for Eddie Jones after questioning the Aussie coach's controversial approach at the Rugby World Cup. The Wallabies face a do-or-die game against Wales in Lyon on Monday (AEST), knowing that essentially only a win will save them from a first-ever exit at the World Cup group stages.
Jones has come under fire for picking a vastly inexperienced Wallabies side for the tournament, leaving Australia's most experienced captain Michael Hooper at home alongside other veteran stars such as Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley. The under-fire coach says he has "no regrets" over his contentious selections despite the Wallabies crashing to a first defeat to Fiji in 69 years that leaves their World Cup hopes hanging by a thread.
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The Wallabies' defeat to Fiji saw them slip to an equal-low ranking of ninth in the world. Another loss for Jones' men in their must-win pool clash against Wales on Monday morning (AEST) could see them drop to an all-time low of World No.10 if Argentina beat Samoa in their Pool D showdown.
“I made the decision to go for a younger team and if that‘s the wrong decision then I will be held accountable for that,” Jones said after the Fiji loss. "But I think Australian rugby needs to move on to a younger team. I am prepared to go through some pain to leave Australia with a team capable of doing really well in a World Cup."
Former Wallaby criticises Eddie Jones' inexperienced side
Turinui has taken Jones to task over his approach though, and argued that a World Cup is the not the time to be blooding young players in Test rugby. He pointed to the 18 penalties conceded by the Wallabies against Fiji - a joint-high at this year's tournament - as evidence of an inexperienced side that wasn't used to playing together as a collective.
"This is exactly what happens to a team with these teething problems - a team that's new and thrown together," Turinui said on Stan Sport. "The issue is that we're not two years away from a World Cup. We're in the middle of a World Cup.
"New coach, new staff, new players all thrown together. Unfortunately, in the middle of a World Cup, when you're trying to have a more flexible attack as well, any time there's changes and mix ups and it's not perfect, what happens at the breakdown? (Fiji flanker) Levani Botia absolutely dominates the Wallabies."
The Wallabies' ill-discipline against Fiji - particularly at the break-down - proved fatal to Jones' side as the Fijians capitalised on the scoreboard on numerous occasions. All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens said the Wallabies' failure to learn from their errors was alarming and also said the inexperience of Carter Gordon was telling, after the young fly-half was consistently targeted by Fiji's ferocious defence.
Young fly-half Carter Gordon targeted by Fiji
"It was a tough night, he wasn't getting a lot of traction, Carter Gordon, with anything he was trying to do," Mehrtens said. "Everything seemed a little bit futile... they got a bit narrow on attack.
"The important thing for Carter Gordon will be if he's still got the confidence of the coach. Everyone can acknowledge you have bad moments and sometimes you've just got to take it on the chin."
Jones says he expects Wales to adopt a similar approach by targeting the Wallabies' playmaker and insists his side will come up with a plan to deal with the threat. "There's no team in the world that doesn't target the opposition 10," Jones said.
"They are the conductor of the team and if you can get to them, you get to them. There are various ways you can look after your 10 and we'll have a look at that this week."
Jones admits that his side needs to go back to the drawing board ahead of Monday's crunch clash with Wales - who have won just 13 of their 40 Tests since reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup in Japan four years ago. "We are all still searching for answers," Jones admitted about the Fiji defeat.
"None of us has the 100 percent answer. But we have ideas about where the game came unstuck. But Wales are a completely different team. They grind away at you whereas Fiji is power."
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