Saturday 18 November 2017

Jones and Cheika raise stakes with epic war of words

England head coach Eddie Jones Photo: PA
England head coach Eddie Jones Photo: PA

Mick Cleary

The war of words between Eddie Jones and his Wallaby counterpart Michael Cheika is continuing with the former Randwick club-mates trading barbed comments.

If tomorrow's match between England and Australia proves to be as feisty as the verbal sparring between the coaches, then Twickenham is set for a full-blooded, no-holds-barred encounter.

The jousting started on Saturday when Jones pointed the finger at illegalities in the Wallaby scrum and Cheika retorted that Jones had "tarnished" his legacy in Australia by his vitriolic outpourings in June.

Cheika claimed yesterday that Jones had engaged in this sort of conduct simply to deflect from the deficiencies of his own side and to contrive some sort of edge, as he operates best when feeling threatened or disrespected.

"Eddie has always operated with a chip on his shoulder and now that there isn't a chip and things are going well for him, he is looking for one," said Cheika.

"As for the scrum, I think he has done that to take the heat off his own scrum. It is the oldest trick in the book."

Cheika also took aim at another former mutual team-mate, Glen Ella, who acted as assistant England backs coach during the summer series in June, helping the team to a 3-0 series whitewash over the Wallabies, for whom Ella used to play.

"A guy like Glen is always up the front of the bus for a handout when he has had a win. But when it is tough and you have to run uphill, I have not seen that bloke around."

Jones has made two enforced changes, with Wasps No 8 Nathan Hughes getting his first start for the injured Billy Vunipola and Harlequins wing Marland Yarde stepping in for the banned Elliot Daly.

Australia have made four changes, with lock Kane Douglas, back-row forward Lopeti Timani, scrum-half Nick Phipps and wing Sefanaia Naivalu all coming in.

Even though Cheika did not rule out having "a cold beer" with Jones, after the game, he did raise the prospect of boycotting the traditional eve-of-Test meeting with referee Jaco Peyper.

Jones emphasised that Cheika had been invited, as Australia had complained in June that they had not been informed of one meeting. Cheika also claimed that Jones had stormed out of one of those gatherings.

"I have got different codes of behaviour (to Cheika)," said Jones, who also shrugged of the notion that he was bothered by Cheika's more aggressive stance this week.

"I'm disappointed that (Cheika) is upset (with me). I don't control his emotions. But why would I worry about it? Do you think I'm the sort of person who worries about people's opinion?

"We have got a meeting (with Peyper) at 3.30pm. We have extended an invitation to Cheika. It's up to him whether he accepts or not. Last time they whinged and carried on about the fact that they didn't know."

Cheika indicated that he would find little value in attending.

"We are probably just better off letting them have their own meeting and see if they can influence the referee that way," he said.

"I don't think there is anything I can do to influence the ref. My responsibility is to get my blokes scrummaging straight and doing their best to keep the thing up on its feet."

England - M Brown; M Yarde, J Joseph, O Farrell, J May; G Ford, B Youngs; M Vunipola, D Hartley, D Cole, C Lawes, G Kruis, C Robshaw, T Wood, N Hughes. Reps: J George, J Marler, K Sinckler, C Ewels, T Harrison, D Care, B Te'o, H Slade.

Australia - I Folau; D Haylett-Petty, T Kuridrani, R Hodge, S Naivalu; B Foley, N Phipps; S Sio, S Moore (capt), S Kepu; K Douglas, R Simmons; D Pocock, M Hooper, L Timani.

Reps: T Latu, J Slipper, T Robertson, D Mumm, S McMahon, N Frisby, Q Cooper, H Speight.

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