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Premiership Rugby

Interview with Eddie Jones

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

"I think generally speaking the northern hemisphere sides were probably a bit more advanced than us at the line-outs [in June]," said Jones from Cape Town where his side is preparing for their 50th Test encounter against the Springboks.

"France did well against New Zealand in the line-outs and England also did well against us [in the line-outs]. We picked up on and a few things and we need to move up on them."

While England did especially well at line-out time against the Wallabies and the All Blacks, their overall set-piece domination would have been of some concern to the Australian coach.

But Jones did not seem too fazed at his pack's disappointing showing in the Cook Cup: "The Zurich Premiership and the European Cup are about contesting the ball at the set-pieces, whereas Super 12 rugby seems to be more about ball movement rather than set-piece contesting.

"That's an advantage for us in some ways, but a short-term disadvantage at the start of the season."

Jones, whose side last won the Tri-Nations in 2001 – his debut coaching assignment at the highest level – will be looking to get their 2003 campaign off to a good start after their loss to England, the latter's first-ever win on Australian soil.

"I think England played pretty well against us, but we're concentrating on the South African game now," he said.

Australia's record in South Africa is not that flash, the Wallabies having won just one Tri-Nations match in the 'Republic' since the tournament's inception in 1996, while they also suffered a humiliating 61-22 loss back in 1997.

"In the last two years we've played poorly here, but we've taken a different approach this time around and I feel like we're going to be ready to play on Saturday," said Jones.

"We had a good couple of days out in Stellenbosch and the guys found their feet and their sleeping patterns pretty quickly."

Jones expects a physical confrontation from the South Africans this weekend – "as one always does when you play in SA" – but he hinted that his side could counter that by attacking their hosts out wide, where ex-Rugby League stars Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers and Lote Tuqiri loom as the major threats.

"Rugby's a strategic and tactical game," began Jones, "and sides tend to play in the way that suits their own country and the way their society operates.

"As Australians we like to play attacking rugby and that's the type of people we are. We may be fairly brash, and a bit arrogant at times, but when we play our rugby well we like to attack with the ball."

The erratic Cape Town weather could possibly scupper Jones's plans of an expansive gameplan on Saturday, with the Australians training under a slight drizzle on Monday.

"The forecasts are for a darkening sky and a bit of rain, but we'd like to move the ball around, which you could do in any conditions as long as you use a bit of common sense," concluded Jones.

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