Eddie Jones has reacted with fury to the “demeaning, disrespectful and disgusting” treatment of England in Australia.
While the players enjoyed measured celebrations after their 39-28 win in Brisbane, knowing one more victory would seal an historic series triumph, Jones braced himself for hostility “coming at us left, right and centre”.
The Australian objected to a vulgar and inappropriate question laced with sexual innuendo asked by former Wallabies flanker Steve Hoiles at the post-match press conference and is incensed by a sneering television advert.
In the trailer shown repeatedly in the build-up to the first Test, pundits including Tim Horan and Phil Kearns mockingly highlighted past English failures and declared a successful series for the World Cup finalists a foregone conclusion.
England responded with a stirring comeback victory at Suncorp Stadium, in the process posting their highest points total in the southern hemisphere, and Jones insists the taunts will only further motivate his team in the potentially-decisive second instalment in Melbourne.
“You’ve seen the promotions...and the kind of questions we get,” said Jones. “It’s quite demeaning and disrespectful to the team, so we’re not going to let this opportunity pass. Without a doubt we’ve been disrespected. You get that sort of ridiculous question from Hoiles. The team has been disrespected. I’m not worried about myself, I can handle myself. Don’t worry about that.”
A thrilling opener saw Australia race into a 10-0 lead before England stormed back into contention.
The balance of power shifted with the withdrawal of Huddersfield-born Luther Burrell in the 23rd minute, a tactical replacement that reunited the 10-12 axis of George Ford and Owen Farrell.
It proved to be an inspired early substitution, Burrell’s confusion in defence making way for the extra control of twin playmakers with Ford’s vision adding a new dimension.
The task facing Burrell, who had only recently returned to the team after his controversial omission from last autumn’s World Cup squad, is to once again rebuild his confidence having been hauled off so early.
“It’s a very old-fashioned view to say that you can’t make substitutions in the first half,” said Jones. “Picking himself is Luther’s challenge. That’s what Test rugby’s about. You’ve got to be tough. He understood the best thing for the team was for him to come off and George to come on.
“We talk about a 23-man squad all the time and that’s what we’re trying to do.”