Western Province have for the first time admitted that Eddie Jones could leave their Stormers Super Rugby franchise weeks after taking over as their coach.
Sky Sports has reported that Jones has in fact entered talks and is expected to be announced as coach in the coming days with Steve Borthwick his assistant.
Media reports suggest that the Australian Jones, who led Japan to three wins at the recent Rugby World Cup, will take over the vacant England head coach role in the coming days.
Western Province had vehemently denied this earlier in the week but on Thursday suggested they were unsure as to whether Jones would remain.
“Western Province Rugby is aware of the speculation regarding Eddie Jones’s future,” their director of rugby, Gert Smal, told South Africa’s Sport24. “No further comment will be made until we have final clarity on the situation.”
When contacted two days ago by Reuters, no “final clarity” was needed, with the union saying Jones was committed to honouring the three-year contract he signed in September and that any suggestion otherwise was mere paper talk.
The 55-year-old was unveiled exactly a week ago in Cape Town, the day after Stuart Lancaster resigned as coach of England. At the time, Jones insisted he was not considering the post when questioned about reported English interest in his services.
“Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers. I’m committed to the Stormers. I woke up this morning and looked at Table Mountain … I’m very happy to be here,” he said.
The Rugby Football Union’s chief executive, Ian Ritchie, said last week that England would seek to replace Lancaster with “proven international experience” but has seen a number of other candidates fall out of the running.
Jones led Japan to their best-ever World Cup showing in England, where they managed a shock 34-32 win over South Africa. He also coached the Wallabies to the World Cup final in 2003 and was an assistant to Jake White when the Springboks won the 2007 tournament.