Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says his side is not out to ‘spoil’ England’s party at Twickenham on Saturday but he’s unlikely to be joining Eddie Jones in any pre-match referee gathering.
A win for the home side would give England its equal-longest winning streak in history, with 14 wins, but Cheika said the Wallabies’ motivation was on themselves.
“We’re not into rugby to try and spoil someone else’s party, we’re trying to have our own,” - Michael Cheika
“I think they played fantastic this year, they smashed it and they’ve done really well. Fourteen games it will be if they win this game so I think they’ve done very, very well.
“I also feel that we’ve improved, we’re in totally different cycles, we’re in a full transition right now with 13 debutants and just such big changes in our squad.
“We know we’ve taken a bit of pain this year but we know in the long run that pain will help us.
The scrum battle has been the talking point of the week, mainly for the flying accusations from both sides about illegal scrummaging from their opposition.
England coach Eddie Jones has organised a meeting with referee Jaco Peyper for Friday but Cheika said he would be unlikely to attend.
“I think it’s probably better off letting them have their own meeting and see if they can influence the referee that way through having the meeting,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything I can do to influence the referee. Better off maybe staying quiet.
“Let them have the meeting themselves. I’ll see how I go.”
Cheika said he wasn’t worried about the referee’s perception of the scrum, after saying England tighthead Dan Cole has ‘scrummaged illegally his entire career’ earlier this week
“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. That’s where my concentration is on our guys.”
Cheika said Jones’s move to start that conversation immediately after England’s 27-14 win over Argentina was all just smoke and mirrors.
“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 - ‘I don’t want them looking at ours, so I’ll point to someone else’s’,” he said.
“At the end of the day what goes on on the field is all that will count. That’s why I’d say he’s done it.”
Jones didn’t stop at the scrum, describing Australia’s set piece in general as ‘so-so’ on Thursday, a move Cheika batted away.
“Everyone’s allowed to have their evaluation of another team. For mine, reputation beforehand it’s all retrospective, you look back or might think this or that,” - Michael Cheika
“At the end of the day everything that happens on the field on Saturday is what’s going to be important.
“We’d be looking to play well in that area.”
Australia’s front row will have a reshuffle this weekend, with Tom Robertson replacing injured Allan Alaalatoa on the bench, a move that Cheika said was on the cards regardless of injury.
“Allan’s out injured, he’s got rib cartilage damage from last week’s game,” he said.
“Tom’s really done well this year, he’s come in for the first time in the squad, he’s a young player, he’s only played super rugby for the first time this year and I’d say he would have been in regardless whether Allan was selected or not.”
“He’s got the ability to scrum both sides for us. He’s got a lot of room to grow but he’s quite a composed young man and he’s got a good scrum on him."
Australia takes on England at Twickenham on Sunday, kicking off at 1:30am AEDT, LIVE on SBS and beIn Sport (Foxtel Channel 515).