England coach Eddie Jones picked Hull full-back Jake Connor as a potential star in rugby union, but the Super League star labelled the other code “too boring” in a candid response
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Most athletes might be eager to capitalise when the coach of a rival team pays them a compliment, but Jake Connor appears unlikely to have his head turned toward rugby union.
Appearing as a guest on Sky Sports’ coverage of Monday’s Super League clash between St. Helens and Warrington, Jones said Connor had the tools to succeed in union—if he was a little fitter.
“I spent a bit of time up at Hull and I like the full-back there, Connor,” the former Japan and Australia coach said.
“He’s a tough, skilful player and I’m sure if he got a bit fitter he could make it.”
It didn’t take those words long to get back to Connor, although the England and Great Britain international’s response hardly suggested he’s champing at the bit to convert.
The 26-year-old first debuted with Huddersfield Giants in 2013 when he was still just 18, going on to join Hull four years later and winning the Challenge Cup in his first season at the club.
Full-back Connor didn’t dispute Jones’ assertion that his fitness could use some work, though he finds union “too boring” to consider a potential future in the sport.
“I don’t think he was wrong,” Connor said at a press conference.
“It’s always been a thing of mine, my fitness is something I’m always working on to get better at. So I don’t think he’s wrong in that department.
“But obviously I’ve never played union, it doesn’t look that hard. You never say never but it looks too boring for me.”
He disguised another dig by saying union “doesn’t look that hard,” although many converts in years gone by have found otherwise.
Ireland and Great Britain star turned broadcaster Brian Carney was one of the few to thrive in both rugby sectors, representing his country in league before also doing so in union.
The Cork native was among the first to react after Jones appeared to indicate union players are better-conditioned than their league counterparts.
“A rugby league player needing to get fitter to play rugby union,” he retorted.
“We’ve had a magician here, now we’ve got a comedian.
“Thanks very much, Eddie Jones, for his contributions.”
Tasmania-born Jones has made a habit out of looking to other sports for inspiration in his own coaching, though his research missions may also have recruitment benefits.
Connor continued to describe the England union chief as “a great bloke” who “seems like a great coach,” but fans need not hold their breath over this particular piece of head-hunting.