Nic White ignoring ‘king of mind games’ Eddie Jones

Planet Rugby

Australia scrum-half Nic White insists that he is not reading too much into what England boss Eddie Jones has to say ahead of their clash on Saturday.

Despite going down to Scotland in the Autumn Nations Series, Jones praised the Wallabies’ performance in the 15-13 defeat.

Mistakes at key moments, as well as a couple of tight officiating calls, meant the visitors couldn’t quite make it six victories in a row.

Nice to receive praise

“It’s nice for him to give us some praise, but Eddie’s the king of mind games so I’m certainly not reading too much into what he says,” White said.

“He’s the type of guy you’d love to sit down with and have a beer and talk rugby isn’t he? Hopefully one day I’ll get that chance.

“He’s the king in rugby circles with the media and that sort of stuff and I love listening to it.”

In all seven of his wins as England boss against the country of his birth, Jones crossed swords with old adversary Michael Cheika, who was replaced as Australia head coach by New Zealander Dave Rennie in November 2019.

Jones and Cheika, former Randwick team-mates as players, enjoyed a fierce rivalry, which culminated in a war of words before England’s latest triumph against the Wallabies in the 2019 World Cup quarter-finals in Japan.

“It will be less personal, for sure,” White said. “I personally didn’t feel it, but there was obviously a lot in the media between Eddie and Cheik and that sort of stuff.

“But I think it will be a little bit different this week. It will be a good chance to focus on what we want to do and the way we want to play.”

White insisted Australia’s rivalry with England had not been dimmed as the Wallabies bid for their first win against their old foe since a 33-13 triumph in a World Cup pool game at Twickenham in 2015.

“I don’t think any of the edge has gone, not at all. Especially after recent times, certainly from our end,” White said.

“England is a side we are desperate to beat. They’ll always be big brother. Whatever sport, cricket, you name it, if it’s England versus Australia the gloves are on.”

England fans are hoping to see more of Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith, who stepped off the bench to score a try in last Saturday’s 69-3 thrashing of Tonga.

White, who played for Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership between 2017 and 2020, described Smith as “phenomenal”, but said Australia would be ready to face the 22-year-old if Jones opts to give him just his third England start.

“He’s the future, there’s no doubt about that,” White added. “When he takes the reins it will be pretty exciting for English rugby and if he plays this weekend it’s another challenge for us, but we’re used to playing against ’10s’ like him, who have got a bit of flair.”

Scotland maestro Finn Russell aiming for high five

Meanwhile, Scotland’s resurgence has talismanic fly-half Finn Russell believing his side may break into the top five in the world over the next couple of years.

Russell, who marshals a talented back-line against world champions South Africa on Saturday, landed the winning penalty against Australia and is anticipating the 15-13 victory as a springboard both for the rest of November and for the Six Nations, where a good performance could realistically see Scotland moving up to fifth in the world.

“In my time we’ve always been up there in the top 10, which is great, but we’ve got to push to get to the top five, if not higher,” said a bullish Russell.

“If we get the results we’re looking for in the next few games and then into the Six Nations, we’ll be well on our way up there. I believe we can.”