‘It’s business. It’s not about fun with Eddie’
MICHAEL Cheika has dismissed the suggestion of a fun-and-games week of sparring ahead with Eddie Jones after the Wallabies dug deep for their 29-21 decision over Wales in Cardiff.
Playing at Twickenham next Saturday is a huge Test for Cheika and his team to show how much they have really improved since losing four times to England last year.
It's going to be business for Cheika who wouldn't bite in Sunday's post-match media conference when asked if a "bit of fun" was in store with Jones, his former Randwick clubmate during their playing days in Sydney.
"Mate, it's irrelevant, It's Australia versus England," Cheika said.
"That's the only thing that counts. It's not about fun with Eddie or anyone.
"We'll have fun in our own camp and then prepare ourselves the best we can each day."
Cheika was more interested in talking about the character shown by the Wallabies against a Welsh team which forced them to defend stoutly and finished the stronger over the final 15 minutes.
"We'd travelled a lot, had guys come back from injury and I thought we showed a lot of character out there against a Welsh team that played quite well," Cheika said.
"We obviously had a huge penalty count (15-3) against us as well so we just showed a lot of character.
"Sometimes over here in Europe, that's just what you've got to do.
"I thought our finishers really excelled, put their bodies on the line, a lot of close range stuff, the Welsh threw everything at us. We'd we'd looked at the last 12 months and the majority of points the Welsh score are in the final 20 minutes."
Backrower Sean McMahon was a huge presence in defence and replacements like centre Karmichael Hunt also stepped up in that area.
The discipline issue is a concern because Welsh goalkicker Leigh Halfpenny knocked over three penalty goals and English goalkicking ace Owen Farrell will be back to rack up points for any more indiscretions at Twickenham.
"Well, you are not going to be able to say it's not a problem off that because the penalty count was 15-3," Cheika said.
"We've got to solve a problem we haven't had all year. We not been in double digits almost all year (with penalties) so to go 15 in our first game in Europe surprised me."
Key lock Adam Coleman was icing a sore thumb after the match and lock Rob Simmons aggravated the neck nerve problem he copped against the All Blacks last month.
Cheika expects both to be fit to play against England but realises he is heading into territory where no one expects the Australians to win.
"We understand the pundits over here don't think we are much of a chance. They've already given England 3-0 for the series of games November," Cheika said.
"I think I saw one guy say, with all respect to Australia a good club side would beat them."
He has good cause to bristle at the last comment when his team has won four Tests in a row, including beating the All Blacks in Brisbane.