Jones to go on the attack with Japan
Former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones vowed Monday to bring his attacking style of rugby to Japan's national team, the day after piloting Suntory Sungoliath to the country's top club title.
Jones will become the Brave Blossoms' coach in April on a four-year contract and has pledged to make the team a top-10 contender by the 2015 World Cup in England.
"Suntory's philosophy of how they play is my philosophy," Jones said after his team beat defending champions Panasonic Wild Knights 47-28 in the Final of Japan's premier 14-team Top League.
"That's how we're gonna play for Japan," said the 52-year-old Australian, who guided his home country to the 2003 World Cup final, which they lost to England.
With what he dubbed an "attacking style of rugby", Suntory, who lost to Panasonic in the 2010-2011 Final, chalked up 12 wins against one defeat in the season and reached the four-team play-offs at the top of the table.
Jones, who was also technical adviser to South Africa when they won the 2007 World Cup in France, said Asian champions Japan had a lot to learn from Suntory.
He will replace All Black legend John Kirwan who opted not to seek a new contract when his five-year deal expired in December after he failed to break Japan's 20-year World Cup win drought at the 2011 New Zealand tournament.
The Asian champions will stage the World Cup in 2019, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of becoming the first host country to fail to make the knockout stages.
Before taking over the Blossoms, Jones has another task ahead. Suntory will defend the Japan Cup in the national championship, which is open to both professional and amateur sides including university teams.
He told reporters Monday that he was confident of victory.
"With the tournament, we will win a second trophy," Jones said.
He joined Suntory in 2009 as general manager and has worn two hats, including that of head coach, since 2010.
As Top League champions, Suntory get a bye and will face either Toshiba or Teikyo University of Tokyo in the semifinals on March 11 before the Final on March 18.
"That'll be the best game of the year. It's gonna be fun," the coach promised.
In the Top League Final, former Wallaby flank George Smith scored three tries, former Springbok Fourie du Preez and another Australian Ryan Nicholas touched down once.
Smith, 31, capped 110 times before retiring from international duty in 2010, and 62-capped du Preez, 29, joined Suntory last year.
They were seen teaching the finer points of the sport to teammates after each game.
"We have established a very strong team-based culture," Jones said.
Smith, the Top League Most Valuable Player for 2011-2012, said of the coach: "He has a very intelligent brain for the game. He is a very expansive sort of coach.
"He expects a high level from yourself as a player and also from his coaching staff, which is good. I think he'll have overall a real good impact on Japanese rugby and players."