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Wallabies looking for new coach after Jones walks out

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Eddie Jones has left Rugby Australia scrambling for a new national coach after sensationally walking out on the Wallabies 10 months into his five-year deal.

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Less than a fortnight after claiming he was “100 per cent” committed to steering his youthful new-look Wallabies through to the 2027 World Cup in Australia, Jones on Sunday night conceded to AAP he was “not far away” from quitting.

The 63-year-old met with RA bosses on the weekend and amicably agreed to his departure following the Wallabies’ shambolic World Cup campaign in France.

Australia failed to make the quarter-finals of the global showpiece for the first time after Jones opted for a late change of tack and dropped veteran playmaker Quade Cooper and long-time captain Michael Hooper in favour of a roll-of-the-dice youth movement.

The gamble failed spectacularly.

The Wallabies lost to Fiji for the first time in 59 years, then suffered a record 40-6 loss to Wales to miss progressing from the group stages for the first time in 10 editions of the World Cup.

Now the fall-out continues.

RA have been left to pick up the pieces of Jones’ ill-fated second stint in charge, which amounted to two unconvincing wins – over minnows Georgia and Portugal – and seven losses from nine Tests in 2023.

Taking in his previous tenure, Jones has guided the Wallabies to 15 losses in his last 18 Tests as Wallabies coach.

Now RA, after controversially appointing him in the first place to succeed the sacked Dave Rennie, must find a replacement.

World Cup-winning legend Stephen Larkham and fellow former Wallabies assistant Dan McKellar are expected to be RA’s Australia’s top targets.

RA boss Hamish McLennan used a virtual captain’s pick to sign Jones and axe steady Kiwi coach Dave Rennie, but the next appointment is certain to be made under a more rigorous process.

McKellar, Australia’s former forwards coach, was publicly hailed as the man-in-waiting under Rennie and quit his Brumbies job to concentrate on the Wallabies.

But he walked soon after the polarising Jones took over.

The 47-year-old is currently the head coach at Leicester Tigers in the UK and while he long coveted the top Australian job, it may not hold the same golden lure it once did.

With a preference for an Australian coach, RA may turn to current ACT Brumbies boss Larkham.

Larkham was the attack coach under then-Wallabies mentor Michael Cheika at the 2015 World Cup until an acrimonious split in 2019, when he was blamed for Australia’s run of poor results.

The champion five-eighth then spent three years coaching Irish provincial side Munster before returning to the Brumbies for the 2023 Super season.

Cheika has also been linked to a second stint with the Wallabies after coaching Argentina to this year’s World Cup semi-finals and Australia to the 2015 decider.

Following the Pumas’ 26-23 third-place playoff loss to England, Cheika said he had “no idea” if he would continue as Argentina coach.

“I haven’t even thought about it. I’ll go to Argentina later in the year and we will have a talk about how things went and what the future holds,” he said.

A left-field option for RA would be to gamble on NSW coach Darren Coleman, who helped turn the Waratahs from wooden-spooners to Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finalists in his two years in the post.

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