Eddie Jones has urged his England players to have the last laugh on Australia by completing a stunning series whitewash at Allianz Stadium today.
The final assignment of a year-long season offers the glorious prospect of routing the World Cup finalists over three Tests, a mere three months after securing a first Grand Slam since 2003.
England’s arrival Down Under was greeted by a sneering promotional video televised by the host broadcaster in which a group of pundits – all former Wallabies – mocked their chances of winning.
Jones, who is seeking a ninth triumph from nine since taking over, also faced a vulgar and inappropriate question during the post-match press conference in Brisbane and has been the victim of regular sniping from the Australian media.
The 56-year-old, who was sacked by the Wallabies in 2005, is using the jibes to power his tourists over the finishing line in Sydney.
“I sense a real intensity about the players in wanting to do the job well,” said Jones.
“You’ve got to remember that when we came to Australia, they tried to humiliate us – the trailer by the host broadcaster and various sorts of things.
“They said it was a joke that we even considered winning the series. All the smart guys in the papers were saying 3-0. Now they’re not so smart.”
England’s success on the pitch has been mirrored by Jones’ deft handling of the phoney war, to the point that New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen claimed earlier this week he had bullied Wallabies counterpart Michael Cheika through his mind games.
Cheika finally fired his first shot on Thursday, describing the No 2 ranked team in the world as “dull” and hoping that they would play with greater ambition given the series has already been decided.
He added that the Wallabies are “not set up to play kick and chase footy, we play running rugby”, and Jones was characteristically pragmatic in his response.
“That is very nice. Very nice,” he said.
“We play winning rugby. We want to win games of rugby. That’s what keeps the fans excited.
“Whatever way we need to win, we will win.
“If we need to kick the ball, we will kick.
“If we need to run the ball, we will run it. If we need to pass, we will pass.
“I’m going to be quite boring here. Good rugby to me is finding or creating space. When you’ve got the ball, that’s what you’ve got to do.
“You can do that through three ways – running, passing or kicking. That’s the aim of good rugby. People want to see good rugby.
“I can remember going to Twickenham when England just beat Italy and people were booing at half-time because they kicked the leather off the ball. It was senseless kicking.
“People want to see good rugby. If you are kicking with a purpose, that is as attractive as running or passing with a purpose. That’s why we’ve got three modes of being able to move the ball.”
Results have been the most consistent factor in Jones’ reign, while the performances have seen notable swings across defence, attack, set-piece and discipline.
The Australian has called for his team to finally deliver the complete, 80-minute match.
“As we said at the start of the series, Australia has got a good side and they have picked a good side this week,” said Jones.
“They will be hurting a lot and they have got good coaching staff and will be well prepared for the game and we are expecting a titanic struggle.
“But we haven’t played as well as we can all series.
“In each of the first two games we have done bits and pieces well but we want to put it all together for this game.
“We haven’t played as well as we can, we are on a learning curve and every game we are going to learn from and this will be another opportunity for us to learn from and get better.”