Eddie Jones says he’s joined Melbourne master coach Craig Bellamy in becoming more of a father figure towards his young Wallabies players.
Over his 25 years as a head coach Jones has built a reputation as a demanding firebrand, prone to outbursts targeting players and his assistants alike.
Former Storm NRL skipper Cameron Smith used to joke he needed to wear a rain-coat when he was in the firing line of a Bellamy bollocking, such was the spit that accompanied his rage.
Both aged 63, their tempers in the coaching box during matches are still there for all to see but the pair say they have changed their approach towards their players.
Overseeing the youngest squad at the Rugby World Cup in France, Jones said after taking on the Australia job for a second time he talked with Bellamy about dealing with the new generation.
The pair crossed paths over the years but really got to know each other in 2018 when Bellamy spent four days at the end of the NRL season in the England rugby set-up, when Jones was their coach.
Bellamy said he expected an intense individual but found Jones to be measured and “actually very funny”.
While Jones has made some brutal selection calls, the current crop of Wallabies seem enamoured by the veteran coach, who is still happy to lash the media.
Jones told AAP he had to change his abrasive style or leave coaching.
“I remember speaking to Craig (Bellamy) about this this year and he said the biggest thing that’s changed him was his grandchildren, so he’s become more of a fatherly figure (towards his players),” said Jones, who is also an official Asahi ambassador at the France tournament.
“I think as you get older you either keep the same and you basically don’t end up coaching or you mould yourself into someone who becomes more of a father or mentor figure to the players and still has the hard edge when it’s needed but it’s not the only thing that you have now.
“When you’re a young coach, and I’m sure Craig was a bit the same, the only thing you knew was the hard stuff.”
Jones said that what he wanted in return were players who loved the game and were willing to go the extra mile to ensure success.
He used France captain Antoine Dupont, widely rated as the best player in the world, as an example.
“I saw Dupont after a game and he’s on his phone watching Toulouse play because he loves rugby, he just loves it,” Jones said.
“A lot of the players now, as opposed to the early part of Australian rugby when we were really successful, it’s a job for them.
“We’re trying to find the players who really love the game because they’re the ones who want to do more.”
A divisive character within world rugby, Jones was loudly booed by the crowd at Stade de France during the Wallabies’ opening World Cup win over Georgia in Paris.
Jones laughed it off and said he was no longer fazed by popular opinion.
“One of the things that age gives you is the ability not to want to be liked,” he said.
“When I was a young coach the criticism affected me and I felt it more and my mother hears it, she gets upset and so it goes on and on, but as you get older you tend to not to worry about it so much.
“”I’m just happy being who I am and if people don’t like it, it’s bad luck.”