Australia’s calamitous World Cup campaign is not just down to Eddie Jones and it would be unfair if he alone took the blame for the Wallabies failing to reach the knockout stages, assistant coach Neal Hatley said.
Fiji made that scenario all but certain by rallying to beat Georgia 17-12 in Bordeaux on Saturday, leaving Australian hopes of progressing hanging by a thread ahead of their final Pool C game against Portugal on Sunday.
Jones has received huge criticism since the Wallabies lost to Fiji and Wales in Pool C and on Friday said he would be prepared to be the fall guy if Rugby Australia needed one.
“That’s always on a head coach isn’t it?,” Hatley, who also worked with Jones in the England set-up, told reporters.
“I heard what he said but everyone’s responsible. There’s leaders within the team, the rest of the coaching staff are responsible alongside Eddie, never just one man.
“That’s Eddie being Eddie, he’s immensely proud and passionate about coaching Australia. That’s close to his heart. He’s gutted about what’s happened and he’s got a real desire to fix this moving forwards.”
Australian media reported that Jones had been interviewed for the Japan coach’s job before the tournament and although the 63-year-old has denied it, questions were raised about his commitment to the Wallabies.
“I’m always amazed by the questions about Eddie,” Hatley added.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with him for a long time. I see no change in the way that this man operates. He’s desperate to win, he’s desperate for his players to do well.
“He’s desperate for his teams to connect and make their country proud.”
Jones has a contract to coach Australia until 2027, when Australia host the World Cup for the second time, and Hatley would be delighted to help with the re-build.
“I’d love to be a part of that,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed these five, six months immensely and the boys have been brilliant. I couldn’t be more excited about staying on.”