Sunday 11 December 2016

'We will let them have their own meeting to see if they can influence the referee' - Another twist in Cheika v Jones row

Nick Purewal

Published 01/12/2016 | 15:35

Michael Cheika and England coach Eddie Jones
Michael Cheika and England coach Eddie Jones

Michael Cheika may snub Eddie Jones' invitation to England's meeting with referee Jaco Peyper ahead of Saturday's highly-charged Twickenham clash.

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Wallabies head coach Cheika has suggested he could boycott Friday's meeting with official Peyper - to let England "see if they can influence the referee that way".

Friends and former Randwick team-mates Cheika and Jones have traded verbal barbs all week, with both coaches accusing their opponents of illegal scrummaging.

Cheika has insisted he will not seek to sway referee Peyper's officiating, but in the process cannily suggested England may not keep similar counsel.

Asked if he would attend Friday's meeting with referee Peyper, Cheika said: "I don't know, we'll wait to see if the referee tells us what time it's on.

"I think they may have but I'm not sure as yet what the story is.

"And then we'll decide whether we're going to go.

"But I think we're probably just better off letting them have their own meeting, and see if they can influence the referee that way through having the meeting.

"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."

England boss Jones lit the blue touch paper on a tie always likely to combust when claiming on Saturday that he had concerns over Australia's illegal scrum tactics.

Wallabies boss Cheika quickly hit back against his compatriot and former club mate however, insisting England prop Dan Cole has been "infringing the law since his career started".

Cheika also claimed that former Australia coach Jones had tarnished his legacy in his homeland during England's 3-0 series victory over the Wallabies down under in June.

Jones shrugged off Cheika's comments, but the Australia boss was in no mood to relent on Thursday after naming his squad for Saturday's keenly-anticipated Test clash.

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 that 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," said Cheika, when quizzed on Jones' criticism of Australia's scrummage.

"You know what I mean: 'Oh I don't want them looking at ours so I'll point to someone else's', you know?

"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's done it."

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