Exclusive: Eddie opts for former England assistant to join Wallabies ahead of World Cup


Slowly but surely Eddie Jones is putting the pieces of the puzzle together. The latest, The Roar can reveal, is reuniting with his former England scrum coach, Neal Hatley, who worked alongside Jones up until the 2019 World Cup.

The Roar understands Hatley will join the Wallabies following the English Premiership season in May.

It’s also believed Hatley will work closely with burgeoning Brumbies forwards coach Dan Palmer, who is likely to join the Wallabies throughout the year too.

But who coaches the lineout and attack remains to be seen.

The England coaches, Steve Borthwick, forwards coach, Neal Hatley, the scrum coach, head coach Eddie Jones and Paul Gustard, the defence caoch pose after their victory during the third test match between South Africa and England at Newlands Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones’ former scrum coach Neal Hatley (2nd left) at England will join the Wallabies ahead of The Rugby Championship. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Hatley worked closely with Jones during the previous World Cup cycle before joining Bath, where he is currently the English club’s forwards coach but was previously their head coach too.

The 53-year-old was widely respected by the English playing group and helped nurture the development of Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge.

He is known to have an insatiable appetite for work. Indeed, his former boss at Bath, Mike Ford, said before he joined England in 2016 that he would have to urge him to leave work on a nightly basis.

“I have to tell him to go home at times because he’s a real grafter but the players all love him,” Ford said.

“He can socialise with them and at the same time tell them they’re not being selected. I’ve never seen anything like the amount of detail he puts on scrums but he’s also worked on our contact area and defence. He’s quite an asset to lose.”

On working with Jones and coaching at the international level, Hatley said at the start of his tenure he was “under no illusion as to how tough it is going to be.”

“If coaching at that level was easy everyone would be doing it,” he said. “I expect to be pushed and pulled all over to get the best from the players.”

Bath head coach Neal Hatley watches his players warm up prior to the Gallagher Premiership match The AJ Bell Stadium, Salford. Picture date: Friday February 12, 2021. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Scrum guru Neal Hatley will join the Wallabies. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

While England’s scrum was well-beaten in the World Cup final loss to the Springboks, for the most part Jones’ set-piece fired.

The early loss of Sinckler in the opening minutes against the Springboks in Yokohama also seemed to be a destabilising loss for England.

Nonetheless, Hatley will be excited about the prop stocks he has to work with.

While Taniela Tupou and Angus Bell have worrying injuries, the scrum functioned well without being dominant last year.

Hatley’s technical prowess, along with Palmer’s, could prove to be what is needed to make it a force.

Palmer was recently described by Allan Alaalatoa and Stephen Larkham as one of the “world’s best” and the former Wallaby spent time with Jones at Suntory late last year.

The former front-rower also spent time with the Wallabies during last year’s Rugby Championship and his technical nous was highly rated by the team.

Brumbies forwards coach and former Wallaby Dan Palmer is set to join Eddie Jones during the 2023 World Cup campaign. Picture: Lachlan Lawson/Brumbies Media

Meanwhile, it’s believed Jones is on the hunt for a lineout specialist.

While former England lock Geoff Parling has the Rebels’ lineout firing, the former Lions lineout specialist isn’t thought to be on Jones’ list.

The issue is there are very few lineout specialists in Australian rugby, which could in part explain the nation’s struggles to continually hit the mark for years.

Ben Mowen and Stephen Hoiles are considered fine coaches in the making, but some believe Dave Dennis, who played alongside Parling at Exeter and is excellent in the lineout and maul, would be a good fit.

While Dennis would be inexperienced from a coaching perspective, Jones has shown he has no issues in bringing in people from left-field.

Mowen, meanwhile, will join the Brumbies next year.

RUPA President Justin Harrison is another left-field option.

As for the attack, it’s understood Jones has yet to find an available candidate that fits the bill and could coach the attack, just as Dave Rennie intended this year, if a better option doesn’t leap out.

The Wallabies coach told his own podcast Eddie last month that he wants to have his coaching team assembled by May 1.

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