Eddie Jones has defended Owen Farrell’s tackle technique as the spotlight once again fell on England’s co-captain in a conclusive victory over Australia.
The Wallabies were overrun 37-18 in the climax to the Quilter Internationals at Twickenham on Saturday with the no-arms challenge by Farrell on lock Izack Rodda provoking a furious response from Michael Cheika.
Australia’s head coach declared the decision by referee Jaco Peyper not to consult the TMO as “ludicrous” and Sir Clive Woodward insisted a penalty try should have been awarded.
Farrell escaped punishment for a similar shoulder-led tackle in stoppage time of the 12-11 victory over South Africa that opened the autumn series, but Jones is satisfied with his fly-half’s approach.
“The referee said it was good. When he says it’s not good, we’ll have a chat about it,” said Jones.
“When you hit people hard, you place yourself at risk. And he hits people hard. I like people being hit hard.
Owen hits people hard. I like people being hit hard.Eddie Jones
“There’s a judgement area all the time. Obviously we want to be within the laws.
“Owen doesn’t try to tackle outside of the laws so he’ll keep on working on that.”
Even had a penalty try been given and Farrell received a yellow or red card, a sixth successive victory over Australia was virtually assured due to England’s dominance of the Cook Cup showdown.
Jonny May, Elliot Daly, Joe Cokanasiga and Farrell ran in tries to complete a successful autumn scarred only by a narrow defeat to New Zealand.
England were depleted by injury yet still posted wins against South Africa, Japan and the Wallabies, in the process uncovering a new star in giant 21-year-old wing Cokanasiga and confirming the rise of marauding prop Kyle Sinckler.
Cokanasiga almost plundered a second but was stopped short of the line following a run that evoked memories of Jonah Lomu, but Jones is wary of drawing comparison with the All Blacks great after just two caps.
“Lomu nearly won a World Cup for New Zealand. When Joe nearly wins a World Cup for us, then you can start talking about Lomu,” said Jones.
“We took a punt on Joe to come through and he has done exceptionally well. The big thing now is how hard he works on his game.
“He’s got to go back to his club Bath and work hard. He has to be absolutely brilliant at the basics.
“If he does that, he’s got a chance to see his career flourishing, but like every young player you need guidance.”
England’s next assignment is against Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin on February 2, with revenge foremost in the mind after Joe Schmidt’s side sealed the Grand Slam at Twickenham last season.
“We owe them one. I’m not worried about winning the Six Nations, I’m worried about Ireland. We play them first up so it’s the most important game we’ve got coming up,” said Jones. “They’re the top team in Europe now. We want to be the top team in Europe. It’s pretty simple.”
Manu Tuilagi, meanwhile, feared his body might betray him even during the warm-up for England’s resounding victory over Australia.
Tuilagi made his first Test appearance for two years after stepping off the bench in the emphatic win, his entry on to the pitch greeted with an appreciative roar from the Twickenham crowd.
The powerful Leicester centre finally overcame the groin strain that had prevented him from featuring in the previous three Quilter Internationals to play a cameo role in scattering the Wallabies.
But after years spent rehabilitating serious groin, knee, hamstring and pectoral injuries, he was concerned he might break down again.
When asked if he had doubts that his body would hold up, Tuilagi said: “Always. I was nervous throughout the whole thing, the team run.
“We had a massive session on Wednesday and that was the session that if I got through it, because it was contact and a fast game, I would be all right for the game and thank God I got through it.
“We still had the team run on Friday and then the warm up before the game. All the stuff goes through your head.
“But the main thing was that I knew the groin strain was a little one. It was annoying but it has happened before so there is no point being down about it.”
Report: Page 5