Rugby | Cheika dodges Jones jabs

Brisbane – Australia coach Michael Cheika
on Monday refused to rise to comments from Eddie Jones on Monday after his
England counterpart threw some verbal jabs ahead of this week’s Test series

The pair are friends and former team-mates
from their days at Sydney club Randwick but Cheika steered clear of engaging in
a war of words before Saturday’s game in Brisbane.

Jones, who led England to a Grand Slam in
the Six Nations this year in his first season in charge, has been sniping away
since his squad arrived last Thursday.

He suggested Cheika was playing a
“smoke and mirrors” game and “boxing clever” over the
make-up of his extended match day squad for the opening match.

Jones, who suggested a pan-Australian
conspiracy when he had his bags searched by customs at Brisbane airport, even
had a guess at naming the Wallabies’ likely backline.

But Cheika, who coached Australia to last
year’s World Cup final after thumping England 33-13 in the pool stages, was not
taking the bait.

“It hasn’t been nasty. He’s just doing
what he thinks his team needs,” Cheika told reporters.

“He thinks his team might need this
obviously, so that’s what he’s doing to support his team, which is only normal
for a coach to do.

“We probably look at it a slightly
different way. We’re working internally, I suppose, around our mental

Cheika said he will instead focus his
energies on getting the Wallabies ready to perform.

“My focus is very much with our
team,” he said. “I very much want to dedicate all the energy I have
to our guys and making sure I’m doing my job properly.

“I don’t want my players to think that
all that stuff is going to win us the game.

“But at the end of the day what will
win us the game is hard work, aggression, speed, good skills, hunger and being
prepared to do whatever it takes and that’s what I want to build into our lads
this week.”

In 17 previous meetings in Australia, the
Wallabies have won all but three Tests and never lost in four encounters in

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