Eddie Jones is predicting under-fire Michael Cheika will show his street-fighting skills and has warned the England players they will have to win a “scrap” against the Wallabies in the final November test at Twickenham on Saturday.
Jones and Cheika are former Randwick teammates and both have gone through tough periods in charge of their respective teams this year and Saturday’s clash will provide vital momentum heading into World Cup year. Defeat will pile even more pressure on the losing head coach.
England have won seven of their last eight meeting with the Wallabies whose only success in that period was the crucial 2015 World Cup pool match at Twickenham which meant England did not make the knock out stages of their own tournament.
While England were battling to a 35-15 win over Japan on Saturday, Cheika’s men gained a much needed 26-7 victory over Italy in Padua and are determined to finish their European tour on a high after going into that game having lost to New Zealand and Wales in recent weeks.
Jones said: “Cheiks, he’s my old mate, he’s always at his best when they’re under pressure. He loves that, he’s a street fighter, so it does make them dangerous but at the same time we’ve had a tough year too and we don’t mind a scrap either, so it should be a good scrap.”
The England head coach is playing down any psychological edge that the recent run of wins over Australia gives his side and insisted: “I don’t know what confidence is mate. I’ve never seen it walk through the door. All I know is they had a good win (against Italy) and they’ll be ready for the battle. I think they understand where we’re strong and we understand where they’re strong, and it’s going to be a battle of who can take away each other’s strengths and find a way to probe their weaknesses. “
Cheika is side-stepping the personal issue and insisted: “Not as much for me and Eddie, more Australia-England. We’re always up for it. Love going to Twickenham, love the crowd hating us, we genuinely love it all, the boys love it, I love it.”
At Twickenham the Wallabies will wear the same Indigenous jersey they used last year against New Zealand in a game they won 23-17. “We’re very proud to play in it,” said Cheika . “We’ve only had it the one time but it’s not your security blanket, you need to do it proud every time you play in it. I know there is a different pattern on it but it is still an Australian jersey and we will be looking to do our best in our second opportunity to play in it.”
Being 15-10 down at halftime and having to battle back for the victory over Japan pleased Jones although it proved the team cannot function without Owen Farrell in the back line Despite this worry Jones accentuated the 25-0 second-half performance and said: “I thought that was fantastic. It was absolutely fantastic. We found out about the players and we found out about how much courage we’ve got as a team. We found out how we could have prepared possibly better. We found out a number of things and that’s what we wanted to do.
“The worst result for us would have been to go out there and win 70-0. It would have been the worst result because we’d have learned nothing; absolutely nothing. Instead, we learned a lot about players, about preparation, about team selection.”
Jones paid tribute to his former team who will open the 2019 Rugby World Cup against Russia in ten month’s time. He added: “It’s very positive for the Japanese players – I thought they played with a lot of courage and a lot of intent, and I thought they changed their game. They kicked less and ran more, which I think suits them more than kicking. And the young players are really coming through.”
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