Australia have gone on the offensive ahead of tomorrow’s Cook Cup clash by claiming England coach Eddie Jones is “spoilt” and accusing his players of hitting their half-backs late.
The old rivals collide at Twickenham amid a backdrop of provocation from the Wallabies, a marked departure to the build-up of previous encounters, when it is Jones who has waged the phoney war.
Wallabies assistant-coach Stephen Larkham opened hostilities by goading Jones, under whom he won 43 Australia caps, over the financial support provided by the Rugby Football Union that places the England boss under pressure to deliver results. So far, Jones has satisfied that demand, overseeing four wins against the team he coached from 2001 to 2005 as part of a sequence of 20 victories from 21 Tests, but he now faces the biggest home game of the year against a resurgent Australia.
“If you look at the resources they have over here, he’s probably a little bit spoilt from where he’s come from,” said Larkham. “There’s always going to be pressure when you’ve got pretty much unlimited resources around you.
“Their facilities at Pennyhill Park are pretty phenomenal and then just the amount of staff they can have: Consultants coming in, squad sizes, players to choose from and support from the RFU. Pressure comes with that, doesn’t it? ”
Michael Cheika then used Australia’s team announcement press conference to claim that in four previous matches against Jones’ England, his half-backs have been targeted with late tackles.
“They try to bully us at scrum, at the line-out and at the ruck, trying to get into us, niggle, trying to get into our half-back after he passes, the 10 after he passes,” said the head coach. “There is so much footage of that. They wait for us to crack. The fact they are unified behind that strategy means we must look them in the eye and take them on if we are going to be able to resist them.”
The Wallabies have named an unchanged team following their 29-21 win over Wales at the Principality Stadium.
Meanwhile Eddie Jones believes England will benefit from the return of “great competitor” Owen Farrell for the clash with Australia.
Farrell was rested for England’s opening autumn Test against Argentina, but returns at inside centre to face the in-form Wallabies.
Farrell replaces Henry Slade, who drops to the replacements’ bench, and Jones expects him to make his presence felt.
“He is a good communicator and a great competitor,” said Jones. “We will need to compete really hard against Australia and there is nobody better at that than Owen.”
Jonny May returns from a hamstring strain on the right wing and Anthony Watson starts at full-back for the first time as Mike Brown has not recovered from concussion.
Jones bristled at suggestions England would be trying to make up for an underwhelming performance in the 21-8 win against Argentina.
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