Eddie Jones has responded to Michael Cheika’s claim he has damaged his legacy in Australia by declaring opinions mean nothing to him.
England’s head coach has come under attack from Cheika, his former Randwick team-mate and a successor as Wallabies boss, for being “vitriolic” against his homeland during June’s summer tour Down Under.
The rivals go head to head at Twickenham tomorrow with the Grand Slam champions seeking to extend their mastery of Australia to a fourth successive win, in the process amassing a record-equalling 14th consecutive Test win.
“Cheika’s made some comments about legacy, well we don’t have anything to do with legacy,” Jones said. “It’s not for me to decide what my legacy is, it’s for other people to decide. So why would I worry about it?
“Do you think I’m the sort of person that worries about people’s opinion of me? No? Exactly, then why would I worry about it? We’ll have a cold beer after the game so he’s welcome to join us. I don’t control Cheika’s emotions.”
Barely had the dusted settled on England’s 27-14 win over Argentina last Saturday when Jones began landing verbal blows on Australia, accusing them of scrummaging illegally and railing against their “disrespectful” media.
Cheika retaliated by targeting prop Dan Cole, accusing him of “infringing the law since his career started’’, and then revealing Jones stormed out of a pre-match referee’s meeting during a summer series in which the Wallabies were crushed 3-0.
Jaco Peyper, the referee for the climax to the autumn at Twickenham, will meet with Jones and his forwards coach Steve Borthwick today at 3.30pm and the England boss seized the chance to take another swipe at Cheika. “I’ve got different codes of behaviour. I was always brought up that if you have a private meeting it stays private,” Jones said.
“I’ve got nothing to say about Cheika. Every time Australia plays England it’s about Dan Cole. He’s an experienced campaigner. We would not have any other tight-head in our team. I’ve coached over 100 Tests. I’ve had meetings with the ref before each of them. It’s just normal procedure.”
Claiming he would not seek to influence the refereeing of the scrummage, Cheika said: “No I don’t want (Jaco) Peyper to be on top of it; he’ll see the game how he wants to see it. I’m not telling him what to do. He’ll interpret it how he wants. My responsibility is to get my blokes scrummaging right, and square, and doing their best to keep the thing up on its feet. So that’s where my concentration is, on our guys.”
Cheika then reiterated his claim Jones only took aim at Australia’s scrum to mask what the Wallabies consider deficiencies in England’s own set-piece game.
“I think he’s done that to take the heat off his own scrum: it’s pretty logical, it’s the oldest trick in the book.”
Meanwhile Jones views the final assignment of the autumn as the completion of a schedule that acts as a dry run for the next World Cup.
“To me it’s more about a World Cup dress rehearsal. You’ve got to win four games at a World Cup to get through to the next stage,” he said.
“As we’ve seen with Japan you can’t afford just to win three. We want to get into the practice of winning four games in a row.
“The higher the quality of the opposition, the more challenging it is. This is a great opportunity to have that dress rehearsal for the World Cup.
“Ultimately, regardless of the result on Saturday, our aim is to win the World Cup in 2019.”
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