Michael Cheika has shrugged off yet another attempt by Eddie Jones to get under his skin, after the England coach cheekily attempted to predict the Wallabies team for the first Test.
Former Australia mentor Jones – in camp on the Gold Coast ahead of Saturday’s first Test at Suncorp Stadium – told the Courier-Mail on Monday that he wasn’t falling for Cheika’s attempted selection decoys, declaring there would be “no shocks” in his match-day 23.
Jones then went about doing Cheika’s job for him – confidently declaring Israel Folau will stay put at fullback and tipping Christian Lealiifano to wear the No.12 jersey, with James Horwill to partner Rob Simmons in the second row, Taqele Naiyaravoro or Dane Haylett-Petty on the wing, and Karmichael Hunt “at best” on the bench.
Cheika took no notice of the latest round of mind games from his former Randwick clubmate.
“I didn’t see it, you’ve caught me on the hop,” Cheika told reporters on Monday morning.
“To be honest I very much want to dedicate all the energy I have to our guys and make sure I do my job properly here.
“I don’t want my players to think all that stuff’s going to win us the game.”
In any case, Jones looks to be off the money with at least one of his Wallaby selections.
Lealiifano is yet to join the team after missing the entirety of last week’s camp on the Sunshine Coast, still waiting by his pregnant wife’s side in Canberra for the arrival of their first child.
The Wallabies train again at Ballymore on Tuesday, but have Wednesday off.
Assistant coach Stephen Larkham indicated to AAP last week that if the Brumbies skipper wasn’t there for the first part of this week, the team would press on with plans for the first Test without him.
“It’s pretty simple – you plan for him to be there and you plan for him not to be there and you prepare both ways,” Cheika said.
Meanwhile, Naiyaravoro and Sekope Kepu have linked up with their teammates after returning from Europe over the weekend.
But an injury cloud is still hovering over Hunt after Cheika revealed the code-hopper pulled up sore from Friday’s training run, his first extended session with the team after battling a persistent groin strain.
“He screened okay last night so we’ll just see how he screens out today and runs going forward,” Cheika said.
HOW EDDIE JONES THINKS THE WALLABIES WILL LINE UP
Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Taqele Naiyaravoro or Dane Haylett-Petty, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (c), Scott Sio.