Weapons down as Cheik puts onus on players

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by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach MIchael Cheika says the time for mind games is done, as his English counterpart Eddie Jones accused him of ‘bringing out a machine gun’ in a week littered by the pair's unhindered exchanges.

Jones said on Friday that he had remained respectful in line with his view on the game's ethos, saying his criticism of Australia’s scrum after England’s win over Argentina had been his only swipe.

“This has been a normal week for us, we did our press conference on Saturday and spoke about the next game,” he said.

“Otherwise as we've stated they're the most improved team in the world, they've got a good coach, they've got good coaching staff.

“If they want to carry on like that, that's their business.”

MIchael Cheika won't be joining Eddie's party. Photo: Getty Images“I made some comments that were justified and Michael has decided to get the machine gun out. That's his choice.”

Jones added that England had paid the Wallabies due respect, with just one criticism coming from their corner, about their opponents’ scrum.

“You need to address that with him, we're just worried about our preparation, what we've done, how we've made one comment about Australia in terms of scrummaging,” he said.

“Talk to Michael about it. He seems to know a lot about everyone and he's probably the best person to talk to. Do I look like I have a chip on my shoulder?,” he said

Jones said Michael Cheika’s rant on Thursday, in which he said Jones wanted to create a chip on his shoulder and fired back at criticism from former Wallaby Glen Ella, was not of concern to him.

“It doesn't worry me at all. If he chooses to say that, that's his choice,” he said.

“Everyone makes a choice, everyone makes a choice in life, what they say and how they behave.

“He wants to behave like that, that's entirely up to him and we're comfortable the way we've behaved this week, we're comfortable the way we present for rugby. - Eddie Jones

“I think Rugby's a respectful game and we represent all the clubs, all the kids playing Rugby, supporters, we represent all of those and we want to behave in a respectful way.”

Eddie Jones was keen to get another word in on Friday. Photo: Getty ImagesJones said whoever finished on the wrong end of the ledger on Saturday night would need to maintain their composure in defeat.

“I think defeat always hurts and there's going to be somebody hurting tomorrow, but you've got to carry that defeat and you've got to make sure you keep the game in its proper state,” he said.

“The great sport games of the world - Golf and Tennis and Rugby - they stand alone because they have standards of behaviour.”

Media respect reared its head once again after Jones spoke, when The Australian newspaper released its Saturday sports pages, leading with an illustration of Jones depicted as a clown.

The move is evocative of a New Zealand Herald back page that painted Cheika as a clown, an illustration that infuriated the Australian mentor.

Cheika was quick to condemn the move by the national broadsheet, when asked about it on Friday after his team’s captain’s run.

“I don’t think that’s funny I think that’s poor form myself," Cheika said.

As for whether he had picked up a metaphorical weapon in the past five months, after staying relatively quiet during the June Test series, the Wallabies coach called time on the to and fro, that both parties have relished this week.

“I never make a conscious decision to do anything, to be honest,” he said.

“I think all th fun and games are over now. I think it's 24 hours till the kick-off, the players take over here.

“When the ball's kicked off, they're in charge and that's how this game will be decided, by the best team of players on the day and everything that I'm concentrating on.

“All the week, all the other bits are sidelines, everything that we've been concentrating on is just making sure that our players are in the best possible spot to play the best Rugby they can tomorrow." 

On both sides’ last Tests of 2016, Jones said it would be Australia’s final chance to redeem themselves, but with a record-equalling 14th straight Test win on the line for England, his side had plenty to play for.

“It's their last chance for redemption, isn't it?,” Jones said.

“They've had a tough year, they can win this Test and go home happy. We win this Test and we create history, so we're aiming to create history.”

Australia takes on England at Twickenham on Sunday, kicking off at 1.30am AEDT, LIVE on SBS and beIn Sport (Foxtel Channel 515).