ENGLAND’S head coach Eddie Jones has criticised Australia for seeking to influence referee Ben O’Keeffe through the media.
Jones was responding to claims made by his counterpart Michael Cheika that England deliberately target the half-backs with late tackles and will attempt to “bully” the Wallabies in today’s Cook Cup game at Twickenham.
Cheika had indicated he would not attend the customary eve-of-match meeting with the referee, but it is understood that he will now talk to O’Keeffe.
“Obviously Australia enjoy the media more than the referee,” Jones said after England’s captain’s run at Twickenham yesterday morning.
“I have coached over 100 Tests and before every Test I have had a meeting with the referee.
“It’s a sign of respect that you want to know what he wants from the game. It’s a mutual exchange of information for the benefit of the game.
Obviously Cheika feels the referees haven’t done a good job so possibly he should be taking that up with the referee and not the media.England head coach, Eddie Jones
“We have played four games against Australia and had good referees in those games.
“Obviously Cheika feels the referees haven’t done a good job so possibly he should be taking that up with the referee and not the media.”
In contrast to Cheika’s approach, Jones launched a charm offensive on O’Keeffe by highlighting the 28-year-old Kiwi’s background as a qualified eye specialist. “We always meet the referee – there’s nothing unusual about that,” Jones said.
“He’s an ophthalmologist and so he’ll be able to see anything. I might get my eyes checked by him.
“He has been on the touch when we’ve played and I met him as a young guy coming through.
“He’s a very good young ref and is only 28, which is younger than (England captain) Dylan Hartley, who might be able to give him a few tips about life.
“He’s a very competent, accurate and fit referee. He’s an intelligent guy and I’m sure he won’t be influenced by comments made in the press.”
Jones believes Cheika, his former Randwick team-mate, has used emotive language in an attempt to influence O’Keeffe.
“It (bullying) is a nice term to use at the moment. You get up in the morning and there is a story on cyber bullying and a story on bullying in British gymnastics – it’s a common word to use,” Jones said.
“We play by the rules and are happy to stand by that. Australia want to play a lot of games at this stage. Their comments are literally (sic) water off a duck’s back. We’ve played four games against them and we haven’t had a player penalised for late hits at all. What do you make of that?”
Jones also expressed his surprise at the timing of Bob Dwyer after the former Australia coach finally entered the phoney war with his customary attack on England’s scrum.
Once again Dwyer highlighted the technique of props Dan Cole and Joe Marler, urging the touch judges at Twickenham to scrutinise them closely.
“I’m disappointed that he’s a bit late. Bob normally comes earlier in the week, but he has come later this time,” Jones said.
“It’s all part of the fun and games of England v Australia Test matches.”
We’re ready to be targeted, says Hooper: Page 6.