HEAD COACH Eddie Jones predicts the best win of his unblemished England tenure will de delivered against Australia as he began landing early verbal blows ahead of Saturday’s showdown at Twickenham.
As the dust was still settling on a stirring victory over Argentina in which Elliot Daly was sent off in the fifth minute, Jones immediately turned his attention to staging a fourth successive victory over the Wallabies.
England’s boss highlighted their frailty at the scrum and is to request a meeting with referee Jaco Peyper to ensure it is officiated properly, and also resumed hostilities with the Australian media, who he conclusively outmanoeuvred during the 3-0 series whitewash in June.
“We are looking forward to the game next weekend. The best win is to come – Australia will be the best win,” Jones said.
“All we want to do is beat Australia next week, that’s all we want to do. And then beat them next year and the year after that.
“It’s going to be a bit of fun because the Australian media last June was very disrespectful to us. I’m sure they are going to be at it again, so we’ve got to be prepared for that.
“I’m also very keen to have a chat to the referee about the Australian scrummaging. They have got some issues with the way that they scrum so we need to have a meeting with the referee.
“We will invite the Australian coaching staff to come along and will submit an agenda and make sure that everything is above board.
“They were penalised four times in a row against France so they have got some technical issues. I am not going to sort them out for them.”
The first Wallaby to respond to Jones’s mind games has been flanker Dean Mumm, who was in action when Australia’s aspirations of completing a Grand Slam tour of Europe ended with a 27-24 defeat to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
“I’m sure Eddie’s up to his regular tricks, but I will try not to make myself aware of it really because it’s irrelevant to what we want to do next week,” Mumm said.
“We’re not going out there and playing Eddie Jones, we’re going out there and playing England and there’s a whole 23 of them willing to stop us so we’ve got a big job on our hands.”
England will equal the record 14th successive Test wins set during the era of Sir Clive Woodward if they topple Australia, but as Daly trooped off to leave his team-mates to face Argentina with 14 men for 75 minutes their winning sequence on Jones’s watch appeared to be under serious threat.
Instead of crumbling they built a 16-0 lead, weathered a fightback staged either side of half-time and produced a resoundingly stronger finish with Jonny May racing over in the 68th minute to score the decisive try.
Comparisons were being drawn with famous English rearguard actions in Melbourne earlier this year and Wellington in 2003, but Argentina’s inability to exploit their advantage in manpower, indiscipline, chaotic game-management and end-of-season exhaustion offered perspective on an achievement that was nevertheless remarkable.
“We’re not concerned about records, we’re concerned about playing good rugby,” Jones said.
“We had 81,000 people there and I’m sure those 81,000 people were thrilled with the game. They saw everything. It was like a basketball game at one stage with people coming on and off.
“I thought that was a brilliant display. Flexible, adaptable, courageous – we went out with a certain game plan, but had to abandon it after five minutes.
“The players did exceptionally well, the senior players regrouped and came up with another plan and played to the conditions and I thought it was outstanding.”
A major doubt for the final autumn international is No 8 and world player of the year nominee Billy Vunipola, who suffered a serious knee injury at the end of a first half lasting almost an hour.
England: Brown, Daly, Joseph, Farrell, May, Ford, Youngs, M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Wood, B Vunipola. Replacements: Slade for Brown (75), Care for Youngs (70), Marler for M. Vunipola (60), George for Hartley (60), Sinckler for Cole (74). Unused: Ewels, Harrison, Te’o.
Argentina: Tuculet, Orlando, Moroni, Gonzalez Iglesias, Cordero, Hernandez, Cubelli, Noguera, Creevy, Herrera, Petti, Alemanno, Matera, Ortega Desio, Senatore. Replacements: Pablo Estelles for Cordero (75), Landajo for Cubelli (68), Garcia Botta for Noguera (64), Montoya for Creevy (62), Pieretto for Herrera (62). Unused: Isa, Lezana, de la Fuente.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France).