The lead up to the much anticipated test between England and Australia has been all about the coaches this week as the two Aussies try to get under the other one skins.
This comes back from the June Test Series in Australia which England and Eddie Jones beaten the Aussie hands down in their own back yard. Knowing Cheika, this did not sit well with him, his team and the Australians which makes this weekends clash so much more than just a test.
Cheika suggested Jones, the Wallabies’ coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England, was “tarnishing” his legacy in his native Australia because of the “vitriol” he’d displayed during England’s 3-0 series win ‘Down Under’ in June.
Jones, however, again insisted Thursday that England had been shown a lack of respect in Australia by a television commercial from host broadcaster Fox Sports that mocked their chances of winning and a bizarre question containing a crude sexual reference from former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles, now a Fox pundit, at a post-match news conference.
“Michael Cheika has had a lot to say this week. I’m disappointed he’s upset,” said Jones.
“He’s made some comments about legacy, well we don’t have anything to do with legacy. It’s an uncontrollable part of what happens so we’re not perturbed about that.
“We’ll have a cold beer after the game so he’s welcome to join us. I don’t control his emotions.
“We believe that when we went on the Australian tour, (England) staff and players behaved in a very respectful manner.
“But I’ll reinforce again, I found the Australian media very disrespectful so don’t hide away from those comments.”
Cheika, speaking later on Thursday following Australia’s training session at the elite Harrow School in north London, did not seem that keen to take up Jones’ invitation.
“I don’t know, we’ll wait to see if the referee tells us what time it’s on,” said Cheika.
“Then we’ll decide whether we’re going to go,” added Cheika, whom All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said in June had been “bullied” in the media by Jones during England’s series win in Australia.
“I don’t think there’s anything I can do to influence the referee, so we’re better off just maybe staying quiet and letting them have the meeting themselves.
“I don’t know, I’ll see how I go tomorrow.”
Cheika insisted he was happy to leave all refereeing questions to Peyper.
“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.”
Cheika repeated his claim that Jones had attacked Australia’s scrum as a way of diverting attention from England’s set-piece problems.
“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,” said Cheika.
“At the end of the day what goes on on the field is what’s going to count.
“But that’s why I’d say he (Jones) has done it.”
The Aussies recalled Lopeti Timani to the number eight jersey for their fixture against England on Saturday. Timani has been catapulted back into the starting line-up, shifting David Pocock to blindside flanker, returning to their back-row combination that faced Wales and Scotland.
Kane Douglas starts in the second-row for the fifth time this season, teaming up with Rob Simmons, while Rory Arnold has been left out of the 23.
Allan Alaalatoa has been ruled out of the clash, with Tom Robertson named on the bench as reserve tighthead.
“He’ll (Lopeti) will give us a lot of punch and strength in attack and defence,” said Cheika.
“That extra weight he’s got, his ball carrying and strong defence. It’s going to be a very physical game and he’s fresh now after a couple of weeks off and ready to go. I think we’ll need that extra grunt in there for this game.
“They have a pretty good guy backing up who is new of the scene in (Nathan) Hughes. He’s a pretty sizeable chap himself and a pretty good ball carrier. It’s not in response to what the other team does, it’s what I think we need to win this game.”
Nick Phipps will take over the starting half-back role with Will Genia refused a release from Stade Français, returning the Wallabies to the halves combination they used in June.
Phipps and flyhalf Bernard Foley were heavily, and relatively successfully, targeted back in June but Cheika said it was up to the forward pack to ensure that didn’t happen again.
“I think he’ll be fine,” he said.
“He played well in the Welsh game I thought he’s always done a good job for us.
“Our forwards are very clear that that can’t happen.We need a platform and if Nick Phipps is targeted it’s because of the forwards and not Nick Phipps.
“They go hand in hand and I’m going to be pointing the finger at him for that.”
For England Fiji-born back-row Nathan Hughes is set to make his first England start after being named in the XV to face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
Hughes, capped twice off the bench in last month’s wins over South Africa and Fiji, replaces Billy Vunipola after the No 8 suffered a severe knee injury during England’s 27-14 victory over Argentina last week.
“Nathan is a strong runner and will provide go-forward,” said England coach Eddie Jones after naming his side on Thursday. “I like one winger with pace, which is Jonny May, and one with work rate, so Marland will work hard for us.”
He added: “The great thing about our team is that no-one is irreplaceable.
“We’ve had seven influential players missing throughout the autumn but we’ve been able to fill that gap and that’s the sort of team we are developing.”
England will be bidding for a national record-equalling 14th straight victory – a mark set by Clive Woodward’s World Cup winners in 2002-03 – and 13th in a row under Australian boss Jones against the Wallabies.
Their current winning streak includes a 3-0 series victory in Australia in June.
Jones, however, said: “Australia have improved significantly since we last played them. The enduring feature of Australian rugby is their cleverness. They look like they are doing one thing and they do the other.
“They have got some quite clever two-phase variation plays and we are going to need to be on our guard. They played very deep and a long way from the gain line against us in June, now they are really flattening up.
“They’ve really got their attack together and it’s clear (assistant coach) Stephen Larkham is doing a good job with them.
“We want to make the game into a physical contest but we also need to be flexible and adaptable like we were against Argentina and if do that we’ll put ourselves in a good position.”
Jones took over as Red Rose coach following the hosts first-round exit at last year’s World Cup – with England beaten in the pool phase by Australia.
The tournament also saw Jones guide Japan to a shock win over South Africa.
Since taking the England job, the 2019 World Cup in Japan has been in Jones’s sights.
“We’ve played three Test matches on the trot which is important because it replicates a World Cup pool,” Jones said Thursday.
“We’ve won three from three so it’s a great dress rehearsal for the World Cup. We need to win this game to progress to the next stage.
“You can’t just win three games to go through, Japan showed that, so we’ve got to get in that practice of winning four games on the trot against quality opposition.”
Jones, Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England, urged his current side to keep their composure at the weekend.
“If you look back historically at big Test matches between England and Australia at Twickenham the last 20 minutes has always been a time where either team can win the game and the team that is the most composed, makes good decisions and physically pushes themselves is the team that is going to win the game.”
Australia, whose 27-24 loss to Ireland in Dublin last week ended their hopes of a Grand Slam, were due to name their side later on Thursday.
Prediction: Who cares really, just going to love the English and Aussies giving it too each other for 80 min and one coach will be bitching after it all that is for sure.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 David Pocock, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Henry Speight
15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Mako Vunipola
Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Henry Slade