Jones backing youngsters

Queensland Reds coach Eddie Jones is hoping his young guns can water down the influence of two Australian rugby legends when he sees some familiar faces this weekend. [more]

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Queensland Reds coach Eddie Jones is hoping his young guns can water down the influence of two Australian rugby legends when he sees some familiar faces this weekend.

Jones coached Queensland’s opponents in round three of the Super 14, the Brumbies, to their first Super title in 2001 before leaving the domestic scene and leading Australia for four seasons.

That makes him an authority on the club’s irresistible halves pairing of George Gregan and Stephen Larkham, two of the game’s greats and major contributing factors behind the Brumbies having enjoyed more success than any other Australian side.

But Jones believes the pair’s powers are on the wane as they approach the twilight of their careers and hopes his rejuvenated Reds outfit can stick the boot in deeper this Saturday.

"If you look at the top 40 players in Australia through the history of the game they’re (Gregan and Larkham) in it," said Jones.

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"They’ve been outstanding. They’ve won World Cups, they’ve won Tri-Nations, they’ve won Super 14s. They’ve won everything that’s been going around and their influence is still strong on the game.

"But at some stage, that influence has to stop and we’d like to think on Saturday night we can maybe dilute some of their influence on Australian rugby.

"There’s a time for everything to come to an end and hopefully that’s on Saturday night.

"They’re getting older. George is approaching 34 and he’s still influential. Is he as good as he was when he was 29? Probably not, but he’s still a pretty handy player.

"I think we saw with the Wallabies missing George Gregan on the Spring Tour in November that he’s still a very influential player at all levels of the game."

Queensland’s combination in the halves could not offer a greater contrast.

With former Swansea scrum-half Sam Cordingley sidelined with a foot injury for the start of the new campaign, 22-year-old Nic Berry has joined rising star Berrick Barnes, 20, in the heart of the action.

Jones is a huge supporter of Barnes with the young rugby league convert tipped to take his place in Australia’s World Cup squad later this year.

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