Wednesday 21 August 2019

Jones slams Cheika over ref comments

Eddie Jones. Photo: PA
Eddie Jones. Photo: PA

Nigel Whittaker

Eddie Jones has criticised Australia for seeking to influence referee Ben O'Keeffe through the media.

Jones was responding to claims made by Michael Cheika that England deliberately target the half-backs with late tackles and will attempt to "bully" the Wallabies in today's Cook Cup clash at Twickenham.

Cheika had indicated he would not attend the customary eve-of-match meeting with the referee, but it is understood that he will now talk to O'Keeffe.

"Obviously Australia enjoy the media more than the referee," Jones said after England's captain's run at Twickenham yesterday.

"I have coached over 100 Tests and before every Test I have had a meeting with the referee.

"It's a sign of respect that you want to know what he wants from the game.

"It's a mutual exchange of information for the benefit of the game. We have played four games against Australia and had good referees in those games.

"Obviously Cheika feels the referees haven't done a good job so possibly he should be taking that up with the referee and not the media."

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In contrast to Cheika's approach, Jones launched a charm offensive on O'Keeffe by highlighting the 28-year-old Kiwi's background as a qualified eye specialist.

"We always meet the referee - there's nothing unusual about that," Jones said.

"He's an ophthalmologist and so he'll be able to see anything. I might get my eyes checked by him!

"He has been on the touch when we've played and I met him as a young guy coming through.

"He's a very good young ref and is only 28, which is younger than (England captain) Dylan Hartley, who might be able to give him a few tips about life.

"He's a very competent, accurate and fit referee. He's an intelligent guy and I'm sure he won't be influenced by comments made in the press."

Jones believes Cheika, his former Randwick team-mate, has used emotive language in an attempt to influence O'Keeffe.

"It (bullying) is a nice term to use at the moment. You get up in the morning and there is a story on cyber bullying and a story on bullying in British gymnastics - it's a common word to use," Jones said.


"We play by the rules and are happy to stand by that. Australia want to play a lot of games at this stage. Their comments are literally water off a duck's back.

"We've played four games against them and we haven't had a player penalised for late hits at all. What do you make of that?"

Elsewhere, New Zealand captain Kieran Read says running out at BT Murrayfield to face Scotland today will bring back great memories.

The back-row forward will lead his side out at the ground where he made his international debut in 2008, winning the first of 108 caps for the All Blacks.

Read made his bow as a 23-year-old in a 32-6 win over Scotland and has since gone on to win back-to-back World Cups but admits it is special to be back at the ground where it all started.

"It's a great ground to play at, I have great memories here," Read said.

"My debut Test was here - the first time in an All Black jersey - so I really love this ground, the people and the atmosphere as well.

"It's been a great week so far but it will be a different story tomorrow."

  • Wales v Georgia, Live, BBC 1, 2.30
  • England v Australia, Live, Sky Sports, 3.0
  • Scotland v New Zealand, Live, BT Sport 2, 5.15

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