The captain of Australia’s most famous rugby triumph over England has warned the Wallabies to brace themselves for a ferocious series against an old enemy stinging for revenge.
Nick Farr-Jones, who led Australia to World Cup final glory at Twickenham 25 years ago, believes the humiliation of being knocked out of 2015’s global showpiece by the Wallabies will serve as fierce motivation for England.
“The first hosts ever to be knocked out before the finals stages – they were massacred by their press so they’ll be looking to restore pride and that adds so much spice to this series,” Farr-Jones said on the eve of the first Test in Brisbane.
“They were humiliated in the nation’s eyes and people don’t forget that.
“They will have been thinking long and hard about this trip.
“Some of the disappointments of British teams and France coming out in summer for them – winter for us – is that they haven’t picked their best teams, that they haven’t come here to win.
“I can rest assure you that they have come here to win.”
Farr-Jones likened England’s World Cup pool defeat to Australia at Twickenham to the Wallabies’ loss, under his captaincy, to New Zealand in 1990 before they rebounded against the All Blacks in the following year’s World Cup semi-finals.
“Sometimes it’s those losses that hold you in good stead, how you react to them and you’ve just got to mentally and physically hold that in your mind.
“You’ve just got to store up those losses that hurt and I have no doubt that England will have.”
Like most others, Farr-Jones is fascinated by the coaching battle between former Randwick teammates Michael Cheika and Eddie Jones, who has already transformed England from World Cup flops to undefeated Six Nations champions.
“Two Aussie coaches, two passionate guys who played together who love a bit of spite, who love a bit of niggle, who have absolute great capacity to fire up their charges,” he said.
“I suspect that England will come out absolutely firing and no doubt Cheika will have our guys prepared for that.”
Expecting the series to go down to the wire in the third Test in Sydney, Farr-Jones is predicting a torrid opener at Suncorp Stadium and says Australia’s backs will need to capitalise on any limited scoring chances to take a 1-0 lead.
“It’s going to be won and lost up front, I suspect,” said Farr-Jones, who will miss the first Test while taking his teenage son on the Kokoda Track.
“Defensively in the backs it’s going to be tight. I don’t think there’s going to be many opportunities, many gaps.
“It’s going to be a bruising battle up in Brisbane, where Ballymore used to be venue for the most brutal, physical matches.”