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Gregan says England can bounce back

Former Australian captain George Gregan believes Eddie Jones possesses the leadership qualities required to revive England’s ailing fortunes.

England are preparing for a three-Test series in Australia – their first summer tour in five years – on the back of two dismal Six Nations campaigns.

Experienced coach Jones retained the backing of the Rugby Football Union ahead of the trip to his homeland and is tasked with ensuring his squad peak in time for next year’s World Cup.

Retired halfback Gregan, who skippered the Wallabies under the 62-year-old, told the PA news agency: “I loved playing with Eddie, he was a great coach.

“He’s a person who is prepared and has the courage to do things differently – not necessarily follow the norm and whatever the trend is in terms of the way the game’s being played, that takes courage.

“But it also takes a lot of convincing of the group and the people around you to go in that direction, which he does.

“He’s incredibly thorough and meticulous in his planning. What he also does is really empower his team to take ownership of what they do on the field and I think that’s a sign of a really, really good coach, hence he’s had success pretty much everywhere he’s coached.

“Eddie is very good under pressure in terms of identifying what needs to be done and really putting in place a focused plan and getting people to buy into it and working hard towards that.

“It can be a lonely place being a head coach, I think in all sports, it’s not easy.

“He will try to do things a little bit different just to get that little edge and create the best possible environment for his players and coaches to perform. That to me is Eddie in a nutshell.”

England play Tests in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney on successive Saturdays, beginning next weekend.

Following defeat to their great rivals during the pool stage of a wretched home World Cup campaign in 2015, England have been victorious in the last eight clashes with the Wallabies.

That winning streak was sparked by a 3-0 series success on their 2016 tour of Australia soon after Jones’ appointment.

Gregan does not envisage a repeat of the stunning whitewash this time around.

“I wouldn’t have predicted that in 2016, the Wallabies had been in the World Cup final against the All Blacks, were the form team and then they get beaten 3-0,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a really tight series; I think that series was pretty tight too, except for maybe the last Test match – they were all narrow margins and this could follow in the same suit.

“The margins get smaller and smaller in international sport. I think the series is going to be fiercely contested and I can’t see either England or Australia winning 3-0.”

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