Eddie Jones kicks legacy and Australia’s complaints into Twickenham long grass

• England coach defends tighthead Dan Cole against Australia attacks
• ‘It’s not for me to decide what my legacy is. It’s for other people’

Eddie Jones said he does not care how he is perceived in his native Australia and is equally unconcerned about criticism of England’s scrum before the Test at Twickenham on Saturday. Jones, instead, has labelled Australia’s set piece “so-so” and suggested his coaching rival Michael Cheika should not have aired details of a private meeting with the match referee during this summer’s series win against the Wallabies.

Jones, who has made two anticipated changes by adding Nathan Hughes and Marland Yarde to his starting XV, kicked off a lively week by suggesting Australia scrummaged illegally and has given short shrift to the Wallabies’ similar complaints about his own tighthead Dan Cole. “The only person who hasn’t spoken about Dan Cole this week is [the former Wallaby coach] Bob Dwyer,” Jones said. “I don’t know if Bob is in the country but we’ve still got one day to go and I’m sure he can do it from Bowral. It’s just constant, isn’t it? Every time Australia plays England it’s about Dan Cole but we wouldn’t have any other tighthead in our team.”

While Jones is still planning to meet the South African referee Jaco Peyper on Friday he insists it is Australia who are making a mountain out of a front-row molehill. “I’ve coached over 100 Tests and had meetings with the ref before each of them. It’s just normal procedure. There are always issues. We just wanted to make sure we were up front and told the Australians we were having a meeting. Last time they whinged and carried on about the fact they didn’t know.

“Some people think it’s being mischievous [but] most people think it’s actually productive, because you allow the referee to say what he wants to get in the game. That’s why I’ve had meetings with referees for a long time.”

The former Wallaby coach said his successor, Cheika, was in “cuckoo land” if he wanted such gatherings banned. “It’s not going to happen. It’s part of the game and always has been.”

Jones also remains unimpressed by elements of the local media coverage during his team’s tour in June, specifically a provocative Fox Sports promotional trailer and a press conference exchange with the former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles. “I’ll reinforce again, I found the Australian media very disrespectful. I gave Stephen his first cap for Australia, he’s a guy I like but he behaved absolutely terribly. We’ve since chatted after that and that’s where it ends.”

He also questioned Cheika’s remarks about Jones storming out of a referee meeting in the summer. “I’ve got different codes of behaviour,” he said. “I was always brought up that if you have a private meeting it stays private. If people choose to have other views then go and talk to them about it. Speak to Cheika. He’s been very forthcoming this week. I’m sure he’ll share those things with you.”

As for his own legacy in Australia, which Cheika also suggested would be tarnished by this week’s off-field spats, Jones was supremely unfazed. “It’s not for me to decide what my legacy is. It’s for other people to decide. So why would I worry about it?”

He is far more concerned with warding off complacency, as England seek a 14th successive victory to equal their record for consecutive wins: “When you win how many games we’ve won in a row that’s when you’re at your most vulnerable.”

His instincts also tell him England’s unprecedented 3-0 series win in June will make the Wallabies even more determined. “I think it makes us more vulnerable and them more hungry. Whenever you get beaten your attention is [sharper] and you want it more. When you have had some wins your appetite is pretty full. It’s a test of mindset. That is why I am excited. There’s nothing better than an Australia‑England rivalry, is there?”


Robert Kitson

The GuardianTramp

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