News - AU Rugby
Glen Ella another weapon in Eddie Jones' 'Bodyline' arsenal
May 6, 2016
As Eddie Jones has made it blatantly clear he is taking a Douglas Jardine approach to his Australian tour, the England coach knows he needs as many willing allies around him to ensure that Rugby Bodyline takes place, and is successful.
And what better than having around him those who understand the Australian psyche, have been part of their inner workings, knows how their opposing coach operates, and has an insight on most of their opponents- in particular Kurtley Beale.
So there's absolutely no surprises that one of Jones's closest friends- Glen Ella- is suddenly part of the England coaching team. Ella and Jones have been allies since they were both in short school pants.
Actually Wallabies coach Michael Cheika would have probably been expecting this appointment.
Cheika and Jones- one time Randwick club teammates- know each other backwards, and Cheika realises how it works at the top level.
© Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
At Randwick, the Ella brand is revered, and so Jones knows that Cheika will respect him for bringing in one of their own. It is all part of the mind games. Cheika understands that more than anyone.
Wherever you think you can get an edge, go for it, no matter the circumstances. And Ella gives Jones important support for their Bodyline campaign to thwart the Australian power sources, in particular Israel Folau and David Pocock.
Jones, whose real passion is cricket, has already had the Australian media in a tizz by saying that he will pick a squad to play Australia that's equipped 'to play Bodyline.'
He knows his cricket history. He realises how Australia-England relations were badly disrupted when Jardine and Co conducted a concerted, brutal and successful campaign to contain the world's most phenomenal batsman Don Bradman during the 1932-33 Test cricket series.
© Patrik Lundin/Getty Images
While Jones, who might even go as far as wearing a Jardine-esque Harlequin cap during the tour to really push the point, will be relying on several players to take on the Harold Larwood role, Ella will be more of a reliable all-rounder.
You can't exactly describe Ella as Gubby Allen, the Australian-born medium pacer, who played in the Bodyline series but was intensely opposed to Jardine's tactics.
Ella will probably take on more of a Wally Hammond position during the tour- even though the former Wallaby full-back boasts a far sunnier disposition than the often irritable England cricketing luminary who during the Bodyline series, apart from batting No 3 was used as a back-up bowler.
As Ella knows that Cheika wants to play a brand of innovative football that Australians will be proud of, he understands the inner workings of that, and so can come up with a counter and a defence. He can also provide England with a plan on what is required to win in Australia- which can often be adopting similar tactics to the home team.
Often when teams are overseas, they can feel alienated and very, very lonely, especially if a series becomes emotional- which this three-test series is bound to be.
To have not one, but two of the supposed enemy in their own camp will make the England tourists feel far more comfortable as they wander along Australia's East Coast.
© Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Ella also knows what can really irritate Australians.
In his favour is that the England players will like him. It is impossible not to get on with Glen Ella- as his relaxed, easy going nature is an endearing trait.
But underneath that is a crafty rugby mind, who knows exactly how Jones operates, and can be the reliable middleman if the regimented, sometimes dictatorial approach of the head coach for some players becomes a bit too much.
Let's just say Ella is the man the players on the quiet can go to and say: "How about a quiet drink, so we can sort a few things out?"
As for Jones and Ella selling out on Australia for coaching against them, give me a break. Those days of only coaching your own men are long gone. Rugby is the most international of games, so as with the players, the coaches go where there are the best opportunities. The punters understand that.
It also gives them an easy excuse if England win this series. They can simply say the Poms had to rely on Australians to beat them.
Bodyline works both ways.
© Greg Growden