Australian half-backs braced for rough day at Twickenham

Australia head coach Michael Cheika.
Australia head coach Michael Cheika.
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Michael Hooper has revealed that Australia’s half-backs are ready to be targeted by England in Saturday’s Cook Cup clash at Twickenham.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika claimed that Eddie Jones’s men will look to “bully” their old rivals and have deliberately hit Will Genia and Bernard Foley late in previous encounters.

“It’s something the halves have been working on,” Australia openside and captain Hooper said.

“It (hitting late) is certainly to try to slow our ball down. Tactically if your half-back’s not at the next ruck, they have more of an opportunity to get a turnover or get pressure on your ball.

“You’ve got to be careful with doing it because you can give away a penalty. Every time you play in big games there are going to be things like that coming up.

“It’s just a tactic that you see not only England do, but a lot of other teams around the world and throughout this year. We are focusing on our things, our job.”

Australia will usurp England in second place in the global rankings if they end a four-match losing sequence in the fixture by winning at Twickenham.

“It’s something we haven’t spoken about but we know there is a potential to do that,” Hooper said.

“Our focus has been all year to improve week by week against teams around the world. Our focus is what will work against England and it will be a nice bonus if it does happen.”

Adam Coleman has been ruled out of the match due to a thumb injury, resulting in a debut for Blake Enever. Among the replacements, Henry Speight drops off the extended bench.

“Blake has been picked for a really clear purpose – to do his stuff around the line-out, being strong in the set piece and just working,” Hooper said.

Fiji boss John McKee has challenged global administrators to force through a gate-sharing revenue model to help tier two nations thrive in Test rugby.

The Samoa Rugby Union’s bankruptcy has caused shock waves through the sport this month, and Fiji head coach McKee is advocating for change.

New Zealander McKee believes host unions should pay touring Test sides an appearance fee to ensure wider benefits from the hefty sell-out crowds like Ireland’s 51,000 Aviva Stadium attendance for Saturday’s Fiji clash.

“When you look at the regulations of the game, it’s almost as though they were formulated back in the amateurism days and I don’t think they’ve really moved on into the professional era for the tier two nations,” said McKee.

“The big countries, there’s a lot of reciprocal rights, and a lot of money is generated through broadcasting rights, which we don’t have any broadcasting rights.

“If any of the tier one nations tour down south, they can get good gates, and it doesn’t happen for us.

“I understand the unions up here have costs as well, and they get a lot of their income out of these gates.

“But I think there needs to be some move there somewhere, where the host pays the visiting team some sort of an appearance fee. People will always come and watch Fiji because they know they will see exciting rugby.”