HEAD COACH Eddie Jones will send England out against Australia today with orders to “break them mentally and physically” in the climax to the autumn fixtures at Twickenham.
And in a week dominated by the phoney war waged by Jones and Michael Cheika, England’s Grand Slam-winning boss aimed a final verbal blow at his “machine-gun” wielding former Randwick team-mate.
Cheika has accused Jones of manufacturing a “chip on his shoulder” and tainting the legacy he established in his homeland as a former Wallabies coach, while also claiming prop Dan Cole has been scrummaging illegally for his entire career.
The hostility has provided the backdrop to England’s attempt to register their first unblemished year since 1992 and Jones insists his team are ready to secure a fourth successive victory over Australia.
“Michael’s upset so he’s got his machine gun out, he’s firing away at different sorts of people. We’ve just focused on our preparation, getting on with it,” Jones said.
“It certainly hasn’t had an impact on us. It’s probably drawn us tighter together.
“The players are upset about the comments about Dan Cole – in a positive way.
“We respect each of our team-mates and we respect Australia as a team. You know, to single out a player is maybe not the right thing to do.
“To beat Australia we’ve got to break them mentally and physically. We know they’re going to come out in the first 20 minutes like there’s no tomorrow.
“We’ve got expectation, we want to play well. There’s always anxiety involved in expectation, but that’s good anxiety.
“The players are sharp and on it. They want this game, it’s a big game for us. We’ve prepared well so we’re ready to go.
“We’ve practised, we’re equipped to handle it and we’ll win the game in the last 20.
“They have players who like to throw themselves around quite a bit. It’s going to be a game for young and old.”
When asked if he would meet Cheika after today’s climax to the autumn series, Jones said: “Handshakes, cold beers, all friends at the end? It might be warm beers, cold pies. We’ll see.”
England’s 3-0 series whitewash of the Wallabies in June included a bad tempered second Test in Melbourne and lock George Kruis is braced for more of the same at Twickenham.
“There was a lot of niggle throughout that series and I think they were probably left with a bitter taste, so they will be flying,” Kruis said. “This is Australia’s last game. They are going to leave everything out there. But we will give as good as we get.
“That was something we talked about before the summer series –an understanding that we had got to get to their key players.
“I think the evidence was on the field. There was a hard-fought battle and a lot of injuries within the three Tests. It was definitely a physical contest.”
Meanwhile, Australia captain Stephen Moore has urged his team to send David Pocock into his sabbatical with a victory.
The Wallabies’ outstanding back row will make his final international appearance until June 2018 after choosing to take a six-month break sandwiched between two stints at Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights.
“David Pocock will want to go out in the right fashion and the team wants to send him out in the right fashion,” Moore said.
“He’s been a big contributor to the team this year and has made the decision to take some time off, so we want to make it a good finish for him.”
A win for Australia would see them supplant the Grand Slam champions in second place in the global rankings.
“There’s extra motivation, not because we’re playing England but because we want to do well for ourselves and our country. That’s the motivation,” Moore said. “This is the last time this group will have played together as a team and we’ve put a lot of emphasis on that. This is the last chance we’ll get to play together.
“That means different things to different players, but if a player can take motivation from that, then that’s good.”
Australia’s last visit to Twickenham came in the 2015 World Cup when their 33-13 victory knocked England out of the tournament they were hosting.
“I’m not sure we gave them a hiding then because that was genuinely a tough game. It was a good night, but we’ve had some tough games with them since,” Cheika said. “Twickenham is a great place to play rugby with a passionate crowd and when you see the little pockets of gold shirts, you gravitate towards them because you need all the help you can get when you’re in the lion’s den.”