The Wallabies say they won’t be baited by master niggler Eddie Jones this week, but have declared their season-ending clash with England will be an opportunity to show how far they’ve come during a rollercoaster 2016.
As flanker Dean Mumm made his thoughts clear on the former Wallabies coach, by saying “we’re not playing Eddie”, vice-captain Michael Hooper reflected on the chance to end the season with a win over the team who embarrassed them three-nil on home soil in June.
The former Wallabies coach Jones went on the front foot after his side’s win over Argentina on Saturday, putting the Australian scrum in the spotlight and expressing his displeasure at the “disrespectful Australian media”.
He last week declared Argentina the second best team of the Rugby Championship – despite the Wallabies occupying that spot on the ladder – and appears certain to resume the mind games he employed during the whitewash in Australia in June.
The Wallabies are a vastly different side to the one which was humbled earlier this year, with coach Michael Cheika having handed debuts to 13 players since the start of the England series.
“We’re a completely different side,” said Hooper.
“Finishing on a high is going to be huge for us. It’s like coming full circle from playing them at the start of the year to seeing where we are now.”
Among the best performed players in 2016 are the likes of rookies Dane Haylett-Petty, Rory Arnold and Reece Hodge – all of whom will be expected to start at Twickenham.
Arnold – along with the injured Adam Coleman – has been pivotal in strengthening the lineout, one of the areas Mumm believes Australia’s made giant strides this year.
“Our set piece has come a reasonable way since the start of the year,” said Mumm who is doubt for the clash after being cited for a lifting tackle against Ireland.
“In saying that, it’ll be a big test next week. It always is against England but there’s certainly improvements there.”
During the June series, Jones got under the skin of Cheika and the Australian players.
Mumm insists that won’t happen again.
“We’re not going out there and playing Eddie Jones. We’re going out there and playing England,” he said.