England want to scratch Wallabies' mental itch

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

England coach Eddie Jones believes his side has a psychological edge over the Wallabies, as they look for a fifth straight win against Australia.

Jones steered England to a 4-0 record over the Wallabies last year, finishing with a 37-21 win at Twickenham last December.

Close to half of Australia’s side that featured in that match will be missing this weekend, with 12 of the 23 named in an extended squad on Thursday.

Jones said the players that remained would have the history of last year niggling at them when the game got tight.

“Of the team we played against last year, probably six or seven of those players were there and they’ll have a bit of an itch in the back of their head,” he said.

“When the game gets tighter, their memory will go back to those precious games.

“So that’s an advantage for us, that itch in the back of their head.”

Jones has been quick to praise Michael Cheika this week, with the recent sizzling off-field battles between the pair more of a simmer in London, and again said the run of form was with Australia.

“ We’ve got to rise to the occasion,” he said.

“We’re playing against the best team in the world team at the moment.

“They’re the form team.

“They’ve beaten New Zealand and had two draws with South Africa, beaten Argentina and beaten quite an impressive Wales side at the weekend so they’re doing well.

The Wallabies have some unfinished business to attend to. Photo: Getty ImagesJones shouldered the responsibility for an average 21-8 win over Argentina, and has changed up his team’s preparation for the Australia clash in a bid to avoid the issues that plagued them in their November opener.

“We’ve changed the training days to Monday, yesterday and Friday,” he said.

“We’ve got a run tomorrow so we haven’t finished our preparation.

“We just feel that that preparation for this week will make us razor sharp… not flat.”

Captain Dylan Hartley said the players had taken their own share of the onus this week, despite Jones pointing the finger at himself.

Dylan Hartley captained England to a 3-0 series win against Australia in June. Photo: Getty Images“Of course we do, we're the ones who take the field and perform,” he said.

“The key thing for us is winning, that's the objective.

“We want to improve off the back of that.

“We've trained well as a team, we've played a game together.

“The longer we're together, the better we'll be.”

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