In an exclusive extract from a new biography of Eddie Jones, Mike Colman details the brutal expectations that the England coach has placed on his assistants throughout his career - together with a softer side that is often hidden from public view.
Andrew Blades thought the toughest job in rugby was packing down against the All Black front row. And then he became an assistant Wallaby coach to Eddie Jones.
In 2004 Blades was in England finishing up the second year of a three-year contract as team coach at Newcastle when the offer came to return to Australia and join Eddie's staff.
Having enjoyed working as forwards coach with Eddie at the Brumbies, he asked for a release from Newcastle head of rugby Rob Andrew and headed home. It did not take long for him to realise he had made a mistake.
"It certainly wasn't an enjoyable experience. Eddie had a very good programme for developing players at the Brumbies. After every training session the coaches would give Eddie a report on our players and put together a list of extras that the player would have to do to improve. Then we'd review it, and if it hadn't improved, it would be my fault.
"It was a very collaborative environment. Things were different at the Wallabies. Eddie was in a different mental state. I got the feeling he was under a lot of external pressure from the ARU. It wasn't a happy place to work. I found myself thinking, 'What the hell am I doing here?'"
Stories of the demands Eddie places on his assistants are legion. One of the most oft-repeated is of the time the Wallabies had come to the end of a long and arduous season with a win in their final test. The assistant coaches were winding down with some well-deserved drinks when, around 2am, their mobile phones started beeping. It was a message from Eddie. He had been reviewing tapes of the season and was ready to begin the next year's campaign. All coaches were expected at a 6am planning meeting.
Not all former members of Eddie's staff have painful memories. AJ 'Kong' George, who headed the Media Unit throughout Eddie's time in charge of the Australian team, remains a great supporter.
"I can't speak highly enough of him as a coach and a person. That didn't mean he wouldn't read the riot act to me. That was his thing, always wanting you to go to the next level.
"Eddie could be tough in a work situation, but he cared about people too. When I was having problems with my marriage, long after he'd left the Wallabies and was living overseas, he would ring me and say, 'Are you okay? Do you want me to fly over?' People don't see that side of him."
Nor will he forget Eddie's tireless work ethic and attention to detail. "My main job was to provide footage to the media and film training sessions, but he wanted me to be multi-skilled and gave me jobs to do on match days. I was the tracksuit bitch; I sorted the drinks; if players had to be checked by the doctor or go to the head-bin, I was in charge of that.
"He put trust in me and would ask my opinion. He knew that I was filming training and he'd ask me if I'd noticed anything that he might have missed.
"I remember one time I'd finished shooting some training footage and I went up on the hill overlooking the ground to take a panoramic shot to tack on the end of the package for TV networks. Eddie saw it on the news and called me into his office to watch a replay. He pointed out that way off in the distance, you could just make out these tiny figures practising a three-man line-out. He said, 'Kong, I didn't want that going out. Be more careful in future.' He didn't miss a thing."
Former Wallaby kicking coach Ben Perkins is another who has fond memories of his time working with Eddie, although he concedes that one skill he has had to work hard on is the way he speaks to people. "A coach has to pick who he can be hard on and who he has to handle more carefully. Sometimes Eddie didn't always get it right. He can be brutal.
"For me it was more the poor communication. I don't know why Eddie changed from how he had been at the Brumbies. I guess there is a lot more pressure at test level than at Super Rugby, and Eddie just wasn't communicating well. I couldn't see how it was going to work."
Also joining Jones' staff in 2004, alongside Blades was former Queensland and Wallaby fullback Roger Gould. They clashed almost immediately.
"People might be impressed that someone works 18 hours a day," Gould says. "I believe if you have to work around the clock to get something done you either don't have the right resources or you are not utilising the resources you have got.
"Working as an assistant to Eddie, you were always having to defend your position. You would put everything on the table and have to convince him that you were right. When he put something on the table, you'd have to convince him he was wrong. Trouble was, that never happened.
"He has bad managerial skills. I couldn't believe the way he talked to people in front of other people. I've managed enough people to know that there are some things you just can't do to people. You can't take away their dignity."
Everyone who has worked with Eddie has witnessed what Richard Graham, his assistant coach at Saracens, describes as "the infamous sprays".
"As a coach he is very intense. If you put in the work, he will appreciate your effort, but when it comes to sprays I have seen him deliver some absolute pearlers. With most people, when they blow up about something, it all just comes out, but with Eddie it's almost like poetry. He can go for minutes without a pause. Sometimes at the end you feel like applauding. It's so good that you wouldn't be surprised if he had stood in front of the mirror and practised it."
Blades says as the pressure mounted on Eddie during the Tri-Nations series against the All Blacks and Springboks in 2004, the attacks on players and assistant coaches intensified.
"Some things I would witness I'd just go, 'Oh dear.' Eventually I realised it was his way of feeling better about himself. But what if the person he has been ripping into can't move on? In the end he was saying that certain people were purposely ignoring his game plans to sabotage him. There was some paranoia coming in.
When he got back to Sydney after the Tri-Nations, Blades quit. "I rang Roger Goul to let him know I wasn't going on and he said, 'Don't worry about me. I beat you to it. I've already resigned.'"
Blades had been with the side for eight tests. Gould lasted only two. "I don't hold a grudge, but there was no point in staying," Gould says. "I had no feeling of self-worth in the contribution I was making. In a situation like that you might as well leave. It's a different world."
Former Wallabies back-rower and successful Sydney University coach Ross Reynolds was appointed as Blades' replacement for the 2004 spring tour. "We worked incredibly long hours. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday we'd work 14-16 hours a day. It didn't lighten up. We worked 165 days straight. You lost all context of weekends or public holidays. You worked backwards from the next test. That was how you thought of days: as how many were left before the next game."
But no matter how much time the assistant coaches were expected to put in, says Reynolds, Eddie would do even more. "If Eddie decided that he wanted to get together at 6am, we'd have to be there. The amount of video analysis we did was incredible, probably too much. We got analysis paralysis. After games we would be doing reviews and finishing up at 3 to 4am. You'd send him an email and get an answer straight back."
Despite the long hours, high demands and stress, Reynolds lasted 18 months as Eddie's assistant, their association ending only when Eddie was sacked as Wallabies coach at the end of the 2005 spring tour.
"He was good to have a beer with but when the pressure grew he was not in a good place. He lost the dressing room. He went against the players. Eddie had a group of elite players who had been with him, right through the Brumbies into the Wallabies. When things started to go awry and Eddie lost his cool, the inner sanctum didn't enjoy it.
"At one stage they had been winning 80 per cent of their games and then all of a sudden they weren't winning. People started turning on each other. It was a combination of a lot of things, but it became a pretty unpleasant environment.
"I was there for 17 tests, four in South Africa. I did two Tri-Nations series and two spring tours. I saw a lot of the world. Would I do it again? Probably not."