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Great innovation: Jones praises Springboks’ 7-1 bomb squad

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Australia are unlikely to copy South Africa’s forward-based game plan at the Rugby World Cup, but coach Eddie Jones says the Springboks’ “bold and courageous” use of their bench should be viewed as innovation and not a threat to the game.

South Africa inflicted a record 35-7 defeat on New Zealand in their final World Cup warm-up fixture in London last week, using a 7-1 split between forwards and backs on their bench.

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They were able to change almost their entire forward pack in the second half to keep up the physical pressure.

Several pundits were critical of the move, with one suggesting it was abusing the system and that World Rugby should put a mandatory 5-3 split in place. But Jones disagrees.

“Tradition maybe says 5-3, but that doesn’t mean it’s right,” he told reporters on Thursday. “If you are going to play a heavy dominant forward game, why wouldn’t you have more forward players on the bench?

“Rugby is changing, the way it is refereed and officiated off the field is changing, it’s just a sign of the times.”

Jones revealed he once picked nine forwards in his Japan starting team for a game against Georgia, rather than the traditional eight.

“Who says you have to have eight forwards and seven backs (in your starting team)? You don’t have to. There are different ways to play the game.

“I applaud South Africa for being so bold and courageous in the way they want to play. That is great innovation.”

Jones has lost all five tests since returning to the Australia helm at the start of this year, but believes he is closer to finding the right way to play with his current squad.

“The players’ talents have really shone through and we are just discovering now how we can play as a team and how to utilise our strengths.

“We have a new leadership group led by Will (Skelton) that is changing the team.

“I don’t believe you can copy other teams’ structure, you have to come up with your own way of playing. That has always been the goal. Initially we didn’t get it right and now we are finding the right way.”

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Australia open their Pool C campaign against Georgia in Paris on September 9 and Jones is expecting a stern challenge from a side he says has gone through a transformation of their own.

“They (Georgia) have changed their game and play a lot like France. They kick a lot, contest hard at the breakdown and have developed some fantastic counter-attacking skills.”

Australia also have Wales, Fiji and Portugal in their pool.

Reuters

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