Australians love a bit of mongrel, and Eddie Jones is quick to derive strength from his own exotic ancestry.
England's hot-tempered head coach, half-Japanese on his mother's side, has already ruffled feathers by selecting the perpetually reoffending Dylan Hartley as his captain and dropping big-name players in brutal fashion.
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Samoa went down to Japan, meaning the second ticket to progress is still up in the air.
But if you think this is harsh, it is worth revisiting Jones's splenetic outbursts during his first days in charge of Japan.
"The players don't want to win enough, and they don't want to change enough," he thundered after one heavy defeat by the French Barbarians in Tokyo. "So, I'm going to have to change the players."
At his side, captain Toshiaki Hirose fidgeted nervously, finally offering a bewildered smile. Instantly, Jones berated him for the cheek of it. "It's not funny," he scolded. "That's the problem with Japanese rugby. You're not serious about winning."
Bob Dwyer, Jones' first coach and still a close friend, watched footage of the media conference between splayed fingers. "It was so savage, it was embarrassing," he says. "If it had been a Western player, he would have given some sort of response. But the poor Japanese guy, in deference to the fact that Eddie was his senior, just copped it."
Woe betide Jones' England charges if any should dare try to put a dent in his iron rule. He has been perfecting his tough-as-teak image for 55 years, from his childhood scrapes in Sydney to his dream appointment at Twickenham, via all points on the compass in between.
He learnt at an early age of the struggles of his parents, of how his Japanese mother, Nellie, was interned in an American camp after the attack on Pearl Harbour.
It took until the end of World WarII for his maternal grandfather, who had moved to California and established an orchard in the verdant Sacramento Valley, to reunite the brood back in Japan.
As such, Jones has never lost his connection to the country or his appreciation of its traditional family values. A workaholic, Jones still cleaves to the wisdom of never taking the day job home with him.
In his household, certain Japanese influences continue to hold sway. In part, this is courtesy of his wife Hiroko, whom he met when they were both teachers at Sydney's International Grammar School. During the 2003 World Cup, he would eschew bombastic Hollywood films in favour of sitting with his daughter Chelsea, who has been brought up bilingual, to watch Hayao Miyazaki's cult animation Spirited Away. He grew partial to studying martial arts in his spare time. His findings would inform his coaching of Japan's Brave Blossoms to their historic World Cup success against South Africa last autumn, as he enlisted Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fighter, to help his players stay low in the contact.
By other measurements, Jones keeps his Japanese heritage well hidden. Many friends and acquaintances from his early years portray him as the classic Aussie larrikin.
Perhaps this was the influence of his father, an Australian soldier who had met his mother, then an army interpreter, while on occupation duty in Tokyo in the late 1940s.
It was rugby union, a starchily white-collar pursuit in Sydney in the 1970s, that provided his greatest outlet for expression.
No one observed him more closely than Mark Ella.
"We went to kindergarten together," Ella says. "We have known each other a long time. Even back then, Eddie was a very smart character. He has an extremely witty, at times vicious sense of humour. He was also an accomplished cricketer, and he and David Knox, who went on to play for Australia, were the kings of the sledgers. Oh, his tongue was lethal. We used to play indoor cricket, just 20 overs each, but at one point I had to walk away, saying, 'You've got to stop sledging people. We're just supposed to be mucking around'." Most of his associates agree: there is frankness, there is the Australian version of frankness, and then there is Eddie Jones frankness.
"He calls a spade a shovel, Eddie," says Dwyer, his coach en route to four Sydney championship wins. "I consider myself a very direct Australian, but Eddie is more so than I am. He takes no prisoners at all, and he quickly became known as our lead nickname-bestower. For example, Simon Poidevin, our openside, was full of determination and power. So, Eddie christened him Venus de Milo – great body, no hands."
One sharp recollection Poidevin has of Jones is of Randwick's tour match against New Zealand in 1988, a rumbustious affair in which Michael Cheika, as No.8, asked Wayne "Buck" Shelford: "Is that all you've got, mate?" Jones, characteristically, was the focal point of some colossal aggravation up front. "There was Eddie, this little half-Japanese hooker, giving it to Sean Fitzpatrick," reflects Poidevin, still a trim and imposing figure at 57, with a smile. "Sledge, sledge, sledge throughout the game. He could give an absolutely executing one-liner."
Jones' playing career, alas, perished soon after. He was passed over for Phil Kearns in his ambition to earn a maiden Wallabies cap.
Teaching was his contingency, a job where he could combine his formidable work ethic with a ruthless disciplinarian streak.
As deputy principal at the International Grammar, he was able to apply his honours degree in education and an understanding of what he called "optimal learning periods" to his growing appetite for rugby coaching.
Such was the impression that Jones made at the ACT Brumbies – who in 2001 became the first team outside New Zealand to win the Super 12 – that he was handed the keys to the Wallabies office. The appointment was a dream, an ultimate tonic for the agony of never wearing the green and gold as a player. He was also inheriting the Australia team at their zenith, after they had conceded just a single try on the path to lifting the 1999 World Cup. The trouble was that Jones, under pressure from the prospect of a home tournament in 2003, lapsed into impossibly demanding behaviour.
Dwyer tells how visions of the ball would stalk Jones even in the middle of the night. "Eddie is absolutely tireless," he says. "Sleep seems to hold no interest for him. While he was in charge of the Wallabies, members of his staff would joke about it. One of them got back at around 2am from an evening out and sent a fax over to Eddie, thinking 'This will be a bit of a laugh'. But he received an immediate reply."
Even though Australia advanced to the final, the reckoning for Jones was harsh. Criticisms multiplied that he was too prescriptive, intellectualising the game to the point where the Wallabies lost their natural spontaneity. "Eddie sets benchmarks that some people just can't get to grips with," Poidevin says. "Look at what Japan achieved at the World Cup: that arose from pure hard graft, from bringing the squad together five months early and encouraging them to overcome the other teams' size. Whether the English will put up with a guy driving them like that, I'm not sure. It will be vastly different to anything they have experienced before."
The only certainty in Jones' native Australia, as he embarks on the latest phase of a dizzyingly itinerant career, is that it will be one wild ride. "It will either be an amazing success or a huge blow-up," Poidevin predicts, with a knowing grin. "There will be nothing in between.
The Telegraph, London