The former Australia coach, whose team lost narrowly at home in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, has a close South African connection, having acted as a consultant in 2007 when the Boks won the World Cup in France.
He was brought in by then coach Jake White to work primarily with the backline and earned widespread recognition and praise for his role.
“He took the edge off a sometimes strained team dynamic at a time when there were frosty relations between some players and White,” revealed a South African team official this week.
With nine players left over from the victorious 2007 squad, it’s clear Jones is venerated by many of the South Africans, some of whom see him as a mentor.
Veteran scrumhalf Fourie du Preez followed Jones to Japan to play club rugby and also learned more about the game as he eyes a future in coaching.
“You can bet Eddie will have prepared his team very well,” he said.
Winger Bryan Habana gave his distinctive green, emblazoned with gold thread, Springbok blazer to Jones after the 2007 win and spoke this week with much enthusiasm on the subject of the 55-year-old Australian.
“Where he has taken Japan to over the last four years has been really exciting to watch. He has taken them from a team regarded as minnows just a few years ago to now growing in strength as they get ready to host the 2019 World Cup.
“I have massive respect for Eddie as a coach and for what he has done for the Japan and the level of professionalism in their rugby that has increased dramatically over the last years.”
New Bok coach Heyneke Meyer added his own compliment on the eve of the Pool B encounter. “He’s turned them into the team that keeps the ball the most. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”
(Editing by Justin Palmer; [email protected]苏州半永久眼线会所,; +447979846152; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters苏州半永久眼线会所,@reuters苏州半永久眼线按摩,)