Coach John Mitchell insists Australia’s enmity must be turned against them at Twickenham on Saturday after experiencing the hostility rival nations feel for England.
The Cook Cup clash closes the autumn series, with Eddie Jones’ men in pursuit of a sixth successive victory over a Wallabies side that has stumbled through an unsuccessful year.
Mitchell served as forwards coach under Sir Clive Woodward from 1997 to 2000 and it was during that time that he encountered the spite reserved for England teams to the point that he was spat on at Wembley.
Now acting as Jones’ number two, the former All Blacks boss believes the image of Australia celebrating a coveted English scalp should act as a spur.
“I still remember the experience of when we lost to Scotland in a Grand Slam (2000) and lost to Wales (1999),” Mitchell said.
“I remember training at a university in Scotland and the language used. Then at Wembley walking down the tunnel at half-time and a little bit of a goober ended up on my tracksuit.
“I don’t think too many people like us as England do they? It’s important to understand that and realise we can actually reverse it in terms of our own thinking in how we go about things.
“When you don’t get it right, you just have to look at the satisfaction and the gloating on the other side to realise how important it is to them. So you might as well get in first and get it done to them.
“There’s a place for you to realise how much it means to them and the fact people hate coming second to people they dislike. But you’ve got to channel it in the right way.”
Nearing the end of the first autumn in his second spell with England, Mitchell is in no doubt where his own allegiances lie.
“I haven’t coached in New Zealand for 15 years and haven’t lived there for 15 years,” Mitchell said. “While I’m naturally proud of that heritage, it is not the thing that drives me the most.
“To get back and be part of England, it doesn’t feel like just a job. I feel emotively connected and I think that comes from the past.”
When switching focus from the emotional to tactical approach needed to contain the Wallabies, Mitchell makes it clear that England must stop David Pocock if they are to triumph at Twickenham.
Pocock is expected to recover from a neck injury in time to retain his place in the starting XV.
“Pocock is a constant thorn that we’ll have to be mindful of in our attacking breakdown,” Mitchell said. “He’s well known around the world as someone who steals possession at the ruck, or stops your momentum in vital parts of the field.
“He’s got a strong, low-centred body position and now plays number eight for Australia so you’re not quite sure where he’s going to turn up.
“We’re not reading too much into his neck injury stuff, it could be a play from them to get us to take our eye off the ball. We expect him to be there.”
Jones names his starting XV this morning with the key talking point the possible inclusion of Manu Tuilagi should the Leicester centre recover from a groin strain.