Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is delighted to see acquaintance Eddie Jones doing a fantastic job with England at the Rugby World Cup – but also highlighted the work of previous head coach Stuart Lancaster.
Hodgson knows the pair because he is part of a ‘leaders’ group’ which meets annually and he was invited to attend a training session at Pennyhill Park when Lancaster was in post, while he has also spent time with current boss Jones during his own spell as national football team manager.
Although Hodgson admitted he is not a rugby fan, he expressed his admiration for Jones, who will hope to help England lift the Webb Ellis Trophy for a second time with victory over South Africa in Yokohama on Saturday morning.
“I’m proud to say we are acquainted and get on well together. I’m not really the right person to make these judgements, but it’s pretty obvious to me that he’s done a fantastic job,” Hodgson said of the Australian.
“There’s always been a lot of talent and I think Stuart did a good job to bring that talent forward. They’re continually improving and the younger players that have come into the squad have had the right backing and encouragement.
“When they’ve got to England, they’ve got the right coaching to bring the best out of them and we’re seeing the results.
“It could so easily have been different. Eddie could have done equally as good a job and had they lost to New Zealand to a wrongly awarded try, all of a sudden his work would be worth nothing.
“I’m very pleased that’s not going to be the case because they did play well, they did get the result they deserved and now they’re in the final and everyone in England is keeping their fingers crossed that any luck that’s going… goes their way.”
Unfortunately for Hodgson and his players, they will not watch the final because they have training in the morning ahead of Sunday’s game with Leicester.
The Foxes are third while Palace are sixth and talk this week focused on whether the Selhurst Park club can challenge for the top six regularly in the not-too-distant future.
Hodgson, who turned 72 in August, has already stated he is happy to remain at his boyhood club and lead a new project, with the Eagles aiming to secure Category One academy status by the start of next season.
But he warned: “While you’re planning to become better, maybe rejuvenating the team, bringing in some younger talents that are going to blossom out, you have to make certain the environment is still the Premier League. You have to marry those two things together.
“That’s why a project of this type should take a little bit of time.
“In between, you have to make certain that the ambitions don’t make us change the team to such an extent that we might find ourselves going out of the league. It’s a balancing act but it’s a very good ambition.”