Cheika anticipates low English expectations

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It didn’t take long for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to start painting his team as rank underdogs heading into a blockbuster clash with England.

Asked after their 29-21 win over Wales about Australia’s progress heading into the Test, he took the opportunity to pounce on the perception his team were the rank outsiders.

“We understand the pundits over here don’t think we are much of a chance,” he said.

“They've already given England 3-0 for November.

“I think I saw one guy say, ‘With all respect to Australia a good club side would beat them’. one of the commentators (said).

“I don’t think there is too much for them to worry about.

"We'll just prepare as if we are going to play our best game on Saturday and go from there."

Eddie Jones wasn't happy with England's win. Photo: Getty ImagesEngland had a 21-8 win over Argentina at Twickenham earlier on Saturday, a game in which Eddie Jones was visibly frustrated at his team’s discipline at times.

The reunion of Jones and Cheika on-field for the first time since last Spring Tour is hotly anticipated but Cheika had only a straight bat to provide when asked about their back-and-forth.

“Mate it's irrelevant, It's Australia versus England. That's the only thing that counts,” he said.

“It's not about fun with Eddie or anyone.

“We'll have fun in our own camp and then prepare ourselves best we can each day.”

Discipline was a major issue for the Wallabies against Wales, the Wallabies on the wrong end of a 15-3 penalty count, something Cheika said was partly his team’s responsibility to fix, though he questioned the consistency of decisions.

“You are not going to be able to say it's not a problem of that (our doing)  because the penalty count was 15-3,” he said.

“I think just the consistency is what we are looking for.

“We go inside the 10m and we're penalised, fair enough, then two plays later the linesman calls the ref and says the Welsh are inside the 5m off a scrum and he says it's all good.”

“We've got to solve it, it’s a problem we haven't had all year.

“We’ve not been in double digits almost all year so to go 15 in our first game in Europe surprised me...and lose a player too.”

Captain Michael Hooper was given a yellow card after repeated infringements, forced to watch on as the Wallabies fought back a Welsh surge.

Hooper wasn’t happy sitting on the sideline, but the captain said they would take plenty from the grit they showed as the clock ticked down.

“It's becoming a bit of a thing for us against this Welsh team...a couple of times where our team has just hung in with a lot of character

“A really satisfying win, the insurance of defence really does show the character of the team.

“The willingness of team to get off the ground and work for each other was hugely pleasing.”

Locks Adam Coleman and Rob Simmons are the only two injury concerns for the Wallabies, but Cheika was positive the duo would be fine to play England.

Australia travels to London on Sunday, ahead of Saturday’s match against England.

The Wallabies play England on Saturday November 18, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.