World Cup focus cost Eddie Jones: Hansen

Sacked as England rugby team coach, Eddie Jones has received strong backing from New Zealand World Cup-winning coach Steve Hansen.

EDDIE JONES, the England head coach.
EDDIE JONES, the England head coach. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

All Blacks coaching great Steve Hansen believes Eddie Jones's big focus on next year's Rugby World Cup probably cost him his England job.

Hansen has been appointed to guide a World XV against a Barbarians team coached by Jones at Twickenham in May.

The 2015 World Cup winner admitted he was taken aback at the timing of the England decision to axe their Australian coach.

"It was pretty surprising that they would replace him now, when all along Eddie's been saying 'look, this is what we're building for'," Hansen said.

"He's been their most successful coach in history. Some might say that Clive (Woodward) is because he won a World Cup. However, the record speaks for itself, doesn't it?

"I know Eddie had a big focus on the World Cup and that's probably what in the end cost him, because he didn't have such a good autumn and people were frustrated by that."

Jones can boast a 73 per cent winning record with England over his seven years in charge from 2015, and he took them to the last World Cup final in Japan with a masterpiece semi-final victory over the All Blacks.

But he was sacked on December 6 following a disappointing autumn internationals campaign having finished third in the Six Nations with a 2-3 record early in the year.

Rugby Australia has sounded out former Wallabies coach Jones about a possible return home, while other nations have also expressed interest in his services.

"You relish every chance to go against Eddie," said Hansen. "We've known each other for a long, long time and he's a good rugby man.

"With Eddie, you've got to expect the unexpected, because one of his great attributes is his ability to analyse the opposition and set traps for them.

"He's a great planner, that's why he's been so successful with so many sides in different World Cups, having won one with South Africa (as advisor)."