‘Fun and games over’ for Cheika

Date published: December 2 2016

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has insisted that the time for barbs between himself and England boss Eddie Jones is over.

Neither of the former Randwick team-mates have backed down throughout a lively build-up to Saturday's Test at Twickenham.

Cheika though was adamant after his team went through their captain's run on Friday that the time for those comments had been and gone, as he and the rest of his coaches set to work on putting the Wallabies through their final few preparations.

"Those fun and games are over now. It's 24 hours to kick-off and the players take over here," Cheika explained.

"When the ball is kicked off they are in charge and that is how this will be decided, by the best team of players on the day. All the other things this week are sidelines. We are just concentrating on making sure that our players are in the best possible spot to play the best rugby they can tomorrow.

"It is a bit of fun, but I would like to think the time for that is over. The sideline things are a bit of a giggle but the real focus behind the scenes is making sure we have the right tactics, that we are ready physically, the little things. The other stuff is a bit of a laugh.

"As coaches we have to have certain focusses at different times. You only have a certain amount of resource, especially in these last 48 hours with the team."

That said arguably a final mind game, with a mention of England's record and the possibility of an unbeaten year, was part of Cheika's thoughts on Friday even though the Six Nations champions are someway off the All Blacks' Tier 1 consecutive wins record of 18 games.

"England have been playing so well and they are on a run – they must be looking at getting close to New Zealand's games in a row record," he added.

"We have to be at our best with all the little details this week and making sure everyone is clear on the same plan, adjusting back to a 14:30 start, we just want to be in the best possible shape."

Saturday will also be the first meeting between the two sides at Twickenham since England's disastrous Rugby World Cup exit a year ago.

England return with eight starters from that game, Australia have ten, and despite the Wallabies being clearly the better side and winning by a 20 points Cheika moved to downplay that winning margin on one of England's worst days at Twickenham.

"I don't know if we gave them a hiding, that is a bit harsh. That genuinely was a tough game. It was a good night but since then we have had some tough games with them as well," Cheika said.

"We love the atmosphere here. They are a great crowd and when you see little pockets of gold in there, you can gravitate towards that because you need everything you can get when you are in the Lions' den.

"It is a great place to play, there is no doubt about that."

by Ben Coles


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