'He has contributed a lot in a short space of time' – Felix Jones making big impression with Springboks
Staying at Tokyo’s Disneyland as they are, South Africa are hoping for a fairytale couple of months at this World Cup. And, if they do succeed in bringing the Webb Ellis Cup back to the Rainbow Nation Felix, Felix Jones will have a big part to play.
There’s been nothing Mickey Mouse about the Southern Hemisphere giants’ preparations; they won the recent Rugby Championship and have been in Japan for two weeks, hammering the hosts on the eve of the tournament for good measure.
Joe Schmidt has already spoken about how his former player and assistant coach Jones represents a clear and present danger to Ireland’s ambitions at this tournament after Rassie Erasmus recruited him as a defence consultant on the eve of the action after he left his role with Munster.
Depending on results, Ireland could take on the impressive Springboks in the quarter-final and he will have plenty of information to dispatch that week if it comes to pass.
Already, the former full-back has been bending the ear of players and bringing new ideas to the set-up as they gear up for their tournament opener against New Zealand on Saturday.
And assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says Jones has settled in well.
“One thing that he has brought to our side is that he understands the European sides very well and he also has a good relationship with some of the coaches in New Zealand so that is some information that we managed to get from him,” he said.
“I have to be honest and say that he is a very nice guy and it is nice to work with this (somebody who is) passionate about his attack and there is a lot that is contributing to our side, most recently with his attack and his philosophy behind the attack.
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“So, he has really contributed a lot in a short space of time.
“You saw in the games played against Japan the opportunities we had in the game and we managed to capitalise on them and it was because of his contribution also that is adding value on our side.
“Once again, we are playing against one of the best sides in the world, the All Blacks, and we know that they are going to be prepared when it comes to this game.
“They also have some smart coaches around their system so it is going to be a tough one.”
According to the ‘Boks’ brilliant back-row Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jones got straight down to business once he linked up with the squad.
“I sat next to him on a train I think the second day he came and the first thing he started was he was pulling out his computer and working with us individually,” he recalled.
“He is a hard worker and he understands the game very well as well. South Africans enjoy that bit more of a personal touch and he focused more on the individual with us. That’s something different that he has brought.”
Before the tournament, the ‘Boks lost their assistant coach Swys de Bruin, while star second-row Eben Etzebeth was forced to deny involvement in a racially-motivated attack and winger Aphiwe Dyanti failed a drugs test.
Not that they are allowing such things burst their bubble at the Magic Kingdom.
“Any distractions we will just try to put behind us,” Du Toit said. “We don’t try to focus too much on it as a team. We just try and focus on every weekend and every week day-by-day going forward.”
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