Eddie Jones claimed he had been “too nice” to players in his first interview since being sacked as England boss.
On the day Steve Borthwick was appointed to succeed him, the Australian denied having ruled with an iron fist during seven years in office.
“I do not agree,” he told French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique. “I was certainly too hard on the players twenty years ago, when I started with the Wallabies.
“But I have evolved a lot in my management over the years. I even think that I have been too nice to the players in recent years.”
Jones said “all options” remained on the table and that he will make a decision next month - paving the way to the possibility of coaching Australia AGAINST England in a World Cup quarter-final.
“I’d be amazed if he wasn’t there,” declared Rugby Football Union boss Bill Sweeney. “They said they are going to weaponise Eddie or something. Who knows?
“Does he go there as a consultant, does he go to the US, to Japan, I don’t know. We’ve spoken previously about various different things he might do post-2023 – whatever happens will happen.”
Asked if he was at peace with Jones coaching the opposition, Sweeney replied: “Yeah. We are confident with Steve and Kevin and whatever coaching team Steve puts around him.
“I'm sure he'll get the best out of that England team and if that's how it is in the quarter-final then it will be a great day.”
Meanwhile, his replacement Borthwick has vowed to get England fans quickly back on side after a dismal run of form in the autumn.
"Our job is a team, my job as coach in helping prepare that team, is to give our supporters plenty to roar about,” he said.
“The players are hurting. They want the supporters and the nation to be proud of the team. Everybody felt during the autumn, unfortunately, that it wasn't quite like that, was it.”