Six Nations

Carter backs 'fantastic' Jones

Eddie Jones (AP)
Eddie Jones (AP)

Hong Kong - All Blacks great Dan Carter gave Eddie Jones the thumbs-up for his revamp of England on Friday, as the new coach prepared for his first game in charge in the Six Nations.

The world player of the year, speaking in Hong Kong ahead of the Nations Cup, where he will play for France's Racing 92 against New Zealand's Highlanders, said England had exciting times ahead under Jones.

"It's an exciting time for England rugby with Eddie Jones taking over," Carter told AFP in an interview before Saturday's game in Hong Kong.

"They'll be extremely disappointed with the way they performed at the World Cup and there'll be some pretty high expectations of the England side and the fact that they need to improve so it's going to make for a very interesting Six Nations.

"He's a fantastic coach and I'm sure he'll do well."

Just hours after the north versus south clash in Hong Kong, Jones will unveil his new-look England, captained by hooker Dylan Hartley, in their Six Nations opener against Scotland.

England opted for their first foreign coach after the heartbreak of last year's World Cup, when they became the first host nation to bomb out in the group stages.

Despite the disappointing performance of the northern hemisphere sides, none of whom progressed beyond the quarter-finals, Carter, who lifted the trophy with New Zealand, said the gap with southern rugby was closing.

"I don't think there's a big gap between the two hemispheres to be honest," said the fly half, who is in his second stint in France after a brief spell at Perpignan in 2008-2009.

"Northern hemisphere teams, a few of them will be pretty disappointed with the results in the World Cup and I think it's going to be a pretty exciting time in the Six Nations to be honest.

"A lot of teams are wanting to prove themselves after their disappointment, so it's going to be interesting to watch."

Carter, 33, said he was "a bit too old" to go for Olympic gold with New Zealand's sevens team this year, but he backed All Blacks team-mate Sonny Bill Williams to make the grade.

The multiple code-hopper had a mixed debut in last week's Wellington Sevens but Carter said he was hopeful that Williams would be part of a successful team at the Rio Olympics.

"Obviously there's a lot of competition in the New Zealand sevens team but he works extremely hard and he showed after just one tournament that he can adapt pretty quickly. So I'm sure he'll grow and learn with each tournament," Carter said.

Carter added that he expected good times ahead for rugby in Japan, hosts of the 2019 World Cup, who impressed at last year's edition especially with their shock win over South Africa.

But he added that the Sunwolves, Japan's new Super Rugby team, could face a baptism of fire with their coaching line-up only recently announced and their debut season starting next month.

"It's going to be pretty challenging for them, only just coming together as a team in the last week or so with Super Rugby starting in under a month," Carter said.

"So it's going to be a tough challenge for them but they'll learn a lot from their first year in Super Rugby and I think it will only help Japanese rugby in the long run."

Jamie Joseph, who coached the Highlanders to the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby title last year, is the incoming coach for Japan's national team and will take up his new role in August.

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