The Wallabies have vowed their scrum will not to be bullied by England’s pack again, saying they are “ready for war”.
The rebuilt Wallabies scrum, which has made significant improvements under former Argentina veteran Mario Ledesma, faces its sternest test in Saturday’s key World Cup pool clash at Twickenham.
Strides taken to turn what has long been the weakest part of the Australian game into a weapon will be quickly forgotten should the scrum revert to type in the all-important fixture – which could decide which nation reaches the quarter-finals and which suffers an early exit.
“That’s where they have dominated us before, the scrums and the mauls,” coach Michael Cheika said.
“It’s not the only thing. I think they have more in their game, but I think they will come hard for us there.
“You have to be ready for war in that part of the game.”
In victories over tier-two nations Fiji and Uruguay, the Wallabies’ scrum held firm and straight and left both Ledesma and Cheika mostly pleased, though there were wobbly moments.
Those need to be eradicated against a well-drilled England pack led by loosehead prop Joe Marler, and his ability to push the boundaries and test the referee’s patience.
Under Ledesma’s guidance, Australia have embraced the style of straight-on scrummaging which they hope will make it easier to highlight misdeeds from opposition props burrowing in from an angle and should result in penalties.
Cheika understands that long-held perceptions of a Wallabies scrum weakness can be hard to shake but hopes referees have noticed the improvement.
“The referees prepare very well for the game,” Cheika said.
“All we can do is stay as square as we possibly can and make the opposition make their play from there, and see what happens.
“That’s very much our strategy. I don’t think it is any secret.
“And also, put in massive amounts of weight. Really push hard.
“That’s the way our scrum is set up. I am sure (England) will have a tactic … they very much bullied us in the scrum before and I think they will try and do it again.”