Australia to attend England's pre-match meeting with referee Craig Joubert as tension grows
Australia will take the unprecedented step of attending England's meeting with referee Craig Joubert as tensions mount ahead of Saturday's second Test at AAMI Park.
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika plans to take advantage of World Rugby regulations that state a team are allowed to be present at the opposition's eve-of-match briefing with the official.
Offering a layer of intrigue to a game Australia must win if they are to prevent England seizing an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, Cheika will join Friday's discussion between rival Eddie Jones and Joubert.
The meeting is an opportunity for a coach to seek clarity on issues surrounding the match and express any concerns, and to date the option of attending has always been declined by opponents.
The scrum is shaping up to be a key battleground after the tourists gained a crucial foothold in the set-piece in their 39-28 victory at Suncorp Stadium, to the extent that Australia have dropped props Scott Sio and Greg Holmes and second row Rob Simmons for the second Test.
Adding to the pressure on Joubert, who was also the focal point of a scrum dispute between England and Wales in this year's RBS 6 Nations, is the claim by former Wallabies head coach Bob Dwyer that the technique of prop Dan Cole is illegal.
Cheika said: "There's a meeting with the referee for both teams, together. The English guys wanted to see the ref. As normal, as per the rules, we're invited along so we'll go along and have a listen.
"We didn't ask the referee for the meeting. The rules say that if you ask for a meeting, the other team is invited if they want to take up that opportunity. We figured we would. We didn't know about last week, so we figured we will this week.
"I don't think there is any clearing-up from our end after last week. We know where we went wrong and we know what we need to fix.
"We've got to be in the situation where we don't give penalties away and not even leave those things open to interpretation."
England forwards coach Steve Borthwick insists the Grand Slam champions have no issues if Australia are present, but stressed that it was uncommon for opponents to be involved.
"If that's what the regulations say, then it's no problem. I'm my experience it hasn't happened before," Borthwick said.
"It's a question for them though, if they want to come along then that's fine. Meeting the ref is standard practice - before the game each week.
"Craig Joubert is one of the world's best refs and we have every confidence he will ref the game and scrum well."
Cheika admits Australia's bid to rescue the series will be driven by the anguish of losing in Brisbane.
"Of course we want to bounce back. Losing hurts, it hurts a lot. There's no brushing that away and that pain still sits inside you," Cheika said.
"And that's why England want to win again because they don't want the pain of losing either.
"That's what drives a lot of us, the feelings you get after the game in the dressing room - the great emotions of victory and the pain and the hardship of losing. But you get over it and get on to the next thing."