LEWIS Moody would have plumped for Rob Baxter to take over the England hot seat, but understands why the RFU opted to keep Eddie Jones at the helm.
Former Test flanker Moody is a huge fan of the way director of rugby Baxter, has developed Exeter into a Premiership powerhouse with the potential to eventually conquer European club rugby.
But World Cup winner ‘Mad Dog’ says rewarding Jones with an extended contract for leading the team to a third Webb Ellis final was fairly inevitable on the back of his achievements so far.
Jones, 60, put to bed any prospect he could be jettisoned by Twickenham chiefs by signing a deal which takes him up to the World Cup in France in 2023.
He has enjoyed a 78 per ent win ratio in the post since taking charge in 2015 and England’s Six Nations revival helped persuade the RFU to retain his service, despite some ex-players criticising him for failing to give more fresh young faces their opportunity, with one or two such as Kyran Bracken and Matthew Perry calling for him to be replaced.
But ex-Leicester and Bath forward Moody said: “There are some quality coaches in the Premiership and had the RFU decided to let Eddie go my choice would have been Baxter.
“You need to be a certain type of individual to fill that role; you need to be able to handle the pressure. As we saw with Stuart Lancaster who is a good bloke but when it came down to it at a home World Cup he couldn’t deliver.
“I feel Rob has the right character to handle that pressure and perhaps his time will arrive down the line. I like everything he stands for at Exeter where he has done so much despite having fairly scarce financial backing during that time. He’s developed something strong down there and it might still be hard for him to step away from it.”
With Baxter having this season ruled himself out of contention by signing an extended deal at Exeter Moody is happy to have Jones in charge.
He said: “I can fully understand why the RFU have asked Eddie to stay in charge. He has shown he can deliver in the shape of a Grand Slam in his second season, Six Nations title in 2017 and then fell just short in a World Cup.
“He said when taking over the England role that the Webb Ellis Cup was the one thing he really wanted and is clearly still excited about the challenge ahead. Not to nail it in Japan clearly left him keen to get it right next time.”
Moody adds: “Having Eddie still in charge for the next three years means there is consistency. It will be pivotal to how England prepare for France 2023 and then perform in the tournament.
“In 2007 we lost Andy Robinson six months before it. Brian Ashton came in. The first two games were diabolical. We lost 36-0 to South Africa and it was only through player power and sitting down with the coaches to come up with a new focus that we managed to somehow get to the final!
“The squad and coaching staff need that consistency, and for them to know Eddie is going to be in tenure up to France is so important.
“They can continue to build a new-look squad with fresh talent coming through in abundance.
“As soon as we can get this Six Nations up and running again with the games rescheduled, it will be interesting to see what team Eddie actually turns out.”
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