Wallabies brace for dirty English
WATCH out for England's bully boys. Michael Cheika today warned there'd be no victory at Twickenham unless the Wallabies stood up to all the niggle, scrum tricks and late-hit aggravation aimed at Will Genia and Bernard Foley.
The Wallabies coach said he was hardly offering any fresh revelations on English style against the Australians because the same blueprint was in play many years before coaching rival Eddie Jones took the reins.
Cheika's honesty around the challenge that the Wallabies face as seven-point underdogs early on Sunday morning (AEDT) was a public challenge to his players to deal with it not a lame plea for help from Kiwi referee Ben O'Keeffe.
Cheika and the Australian pack will be delighted they are heading into this physical fight with their No. 1 enforcer because lock Adam Coleman was cleared to play after training today with his damaged thumb strapped.
"Obviously they are a big side, strong, very powerful and they will try to bully us around," Cheika said after a London training run as sharp as any on tour.
"Traditionally, that's the way the game has gone. They try to bully us at the scrum, at the lineout and at the ruck and, with the niggle, try to get into our halfback (Genia) after he passes and the No. 10 (Foley) after he passes.
"There is so much footage of that."
The early Chris Robshaw headlock on then-halfback Nick Phipps in the series-deciding Test in Melbourne last year was a statement for all to see.
Cheika said the physical barrage was aimed at one thing.
"Wait for us to crack," Cheika said.
"They have very good players so they take opportunities when they come.
"They are very disciplined to their game plan. The fact they are unified behind that strategy means we are going to have to look them in the eye and take them on if we are going to be able to resist that."
Jones was hardly going to disagree on the general theme of intensity and in-your-face physicality: "We'll get stuck into Australia. There's no choice."
A charged-down kick, swooping on a loose ball against a Wallaby side playing all the rugby, a five-metre lineout drive ... the tries from this Australia-England Test don't have to win a beauty contest in English eyes.
Cheika was open in saying that the 2.04m Coleman was not fully fit but ready to rip in for his first experience in front of a full house at Twickenham.
"I would be lying if I said he was 100 per cent and you know I never lie," Cheika said.
"I would say he got through today pretty good, better than I thought, and we would not pick him if we didn't think he could do his job. He is a tough lad."
Jones has surprised by naming standout lock-backrower Maro Itoje on the bench.
An insight into the pressure on Jones to do more than win has come in the critical reaction to last weekend's 21-8 victory over Argentina even though his team was rusty after months without a Test together.
"What we want to do is build on the foundations there. It seems like since we had an 'ordinary' game against Argentina, the whole place has exploded and I don't think it's like that," Jones said
Jones again pitched up wing weapon Jonny May as the fastest player on the field, a call that Australian winger Reece Hodge wryly challenged: "I'd probably put in a little vote for Marika."
Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete burnt Henry Speight on the sideline in one of the best moments at training today and sprinted 50m for the dot-down just to finish it off.
"We're anticipating a tough game and we want Australia to bring their best game," Jones said.
"They are probably the form team in the world at the moment so we expect a very, very tough game and we'll need Jonny to finish on the wing."
There is an extra whiff of Australia-England energy in the chill breeze over London with the countdown to cricket's first Ashes Test in steamy Brisbane half a world away.
"There's nothing better than an Australia v England sporting contest. We've had it in cricket and I watched the rugby league with interest the other week," Jones said.
"This should be a ripper of a game"
Jones took up Cheika's theme of intensity with bragging rights again on the line after England's 4-0 sweep of Tests between the nations last year.
"We'll get stuck into Australia. There's no choice," Jones said.
"They've got back into international rugby and got on the front foot.
"Their backs are as big as their forwards and we've got to get stuck into them early."
On style points, Jones will leave it to 80,000 fans at Twickenham to decide if winning rugby over Australia is the only style that matters.
"Our job is to play good English rugby and to beat Australia," Jones said.
"There might be 80,000 out there and there might be 40,000 who find it entertaining and 40,000 that don't find it entertaining. Our job is to win and play good rugby."