Eddie Jones says the three-Test Cook Cup series is being played in the right spirit, despite Wallabies boss Michael Cheika’s accusations of off-the-ball “niggle” tactics by England.
The tourists got under Australia’s skin in their 39-28 victory in Brisbane last weekend with their confrontational approach, and while Cheika is prepared for more of the same in Saturday’s crucial second Test at AAMI Park, he claimed it was “not our go” and that his side wouldn’t be descending to that level.
Jones was typically non-plussed when told about Cheika’s comments.
“We’re a physical team. That’s Michael’s opinion. He’s quite entitled to his opinion,” he said.
Asked if the “niggle” Cheika was referring to was the sort of abrasiveness needed in the Test arena, Jones said: “The All Blacks win 90 per cent of their Tests. I’ll leave it at that.”
Pressed further on the matter, Jones said he didn’t care what the Wallabies thought about his side.
“All we’re concerned about is ourselves. We’re not concerned about Australia,” he said.
“If they want to say things about us … we’ve been respectful about them, about the way they play the game, about the way they conduct themselves and will continue to do that.
“And to me, the first Test was a fantastic game of rugby. I’ve (spoken to) a lot of neutrals and they all said the same thing.”
If the following matches were played in the same spirit, Jones said he expected it to be one of the great rugby series.
“Michael’s got his opinion and good luck to him.”
Jones said he has seen no trace of complacency from his players, who stand poised to create history if they can win in Melbourne.
“Being the first side ever to win a series in Australia is a great motivation because you do that, you’re on the walls of Twickenham forever and that’s what this team wants to be,” he said.
“The senior players have been outstanding. That’s why we’re confident, but respectful that Australia’s a wounded animal, is going to come hard at us, but we’ve had a good preparation.
“I think we’re in a good spot to play well.”