Michael Cheika has delivered a blunt response to England’s scathing assessment of the Wallabies’ rebuilt scrum: talk is cheap.
For the first time in the build-up to the Wallabies crunch Rugby World Cup pool game with England on Saturday (Sunday 0600AEDT), Cheika took the bait on offer after yet another damning criticism of his pack.
The barbs came from England No.8 Ben Morgan, recalled after recovering from a knee injury to face an Australia pack he predicted would be riddled by demons of their past Twickenham failures.
It was the straw which broke the camel’s back for Cheika, who had spent the week shunning any potential war of words with England ahead of the must-win clash.
“I know they think we’re weak in the forwards,” he said.
“It’s pretty obvious that they’re saying it out loud.
“They’ve done it to us, they’ve stuck it to us the last couple of times so there’s nothing we can say in our room that’s going to make any difference.
“The only place things are going to be different is on the field on Saturday night and that’s where we’ve got to show our colours.
“Talk’s cheap, you know.”
Cheika insisted he had full faith in his squad to get the job done in the set piece – but refused to put too much focus on any one area.
That would create an unbalance, he argued, which would leave them open to failure.
But in Cheika’s world, the only place you earn respect is on the field – and that’s a message he hopes his forwards take into the Twickenham cauldron.
“Mate I believe in my players 201 per cent,” he said when pressed on England’s set-piece dominance.
“That stuff’s not even resonating in my mind. I’m thinking about my lads, how we’re going to play, good technique, good tactics and the stuff you don’t need talent for – which is very big physicality.
“And trying to get the balance right. If you go one direction too far in any of those things you’ll pay the penalty.
“We’ve worked are on building our team spirit to be ready for whatever challenge is put in front of us.
“The only way people who think like that will change their mind is if we show them and give them reason to change their minds.”