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Michael Cheika believes in his Wallabies ahead of Twickenham showdown

Published 01/10/2015

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has named the same team which beat Fiji for the meeting with England
Australia head coach Michael Cheika has named the same team which beat Fiji for the meeting with England

Michael Cheika is unfazed by England's taunts that Australia are "weak" up front ahead of Saturday's do-or-die World Cup clash at Twickenham.

Wallabies boss Cheika knows Australia could well knock England out of their home World Cup at the first hurdle - but has told his squad to summon greater motivation than to hurt their fierce traditional rivals.

Number eight Ben Morgan called on England to reopen "past demons" from Australian pack humblings of yesteryear on Saturday, to stop Stuart Lancaster's men becoming the worst-performing World Cup host nation.

Australia head coach Cheika rebuffed that talk though, before sneakily hinting England had been shocked to discover Saturday's contest could become a straight knockout battle after their 28-25 defeat to Wales.

"I know they think we're weak in the forwards, it's pretty obvious - they are saying it out loud," said Cheika, after naming double breakdown threats Michael Hooper and David Pocock in his starting XV.

"And they've stuffed it to us the last couple of times at Twickenham.

"There's nothing we can say in this room that will make any difference. The only place it will be different is on the field on Saturday.

"I believe in my players 201 per cent. That stuff is not even resonating in my mind.

"I'm just thinking about the best balance between good technique, good tactics and the stuff you don't need talent for and that's physicality.

"The only way that people who think like that will change their minds is if we give them reason to do that.

"I don't know if that win-or-bust mentality's there for them - I'd be surprised if that's the case.

"We came here right from the start saying every game was a final, it's tournament play. I don't think you can suddenly decide 'oh s**t, it's a final'.

"We've come from a way back, and there's a lot of people unsure about whether we're good enough from outside our camp.

"We've just tried to take something out of every day and take each game as a final.

" Anything we're doing here is for us, we're not here to do anything to anyone else.

"Those external motivations last for about two minutes on the field.

"When you're going to go through 80 minutes of warfare, or our version of it, then you need bigger motivations than that. Because all that can disappear in a heartbeat, our motivation has to come from deep inside.

"Those other things are very peripheral and quite superficial."

Australia's refusal to engage directly in verbal sparring has already won the pre-match mind game. By rejecting the Ashes rhetoric, the Wallabies dominate the narrative with calm and poise - a tactic they hope will unsettle an already nerve-frazzled England.

England's distinct lack of a groundhog, ball-stealing openside flanker has long been a cause of consternation outside head coach Lancaster's set-up.

Australia boast two of the best ball-stealers around, and have found a way to combine both in the same back-row.

Cheika believes Saturday's pivotal Twickenham showdown will be more than just "fetcher versus fetcher", but in the same breath conceded Hooper and Pocock's pure breakdown potency has forced him to dump all his back-row preconceptions.

"I'd probably be a bit more traditionalist in the way I'd set up the back-row with a different type of blindside flanker," said Cheika.

"But the two lads have played too well so far for me not to select them together.

"Just because there are certain ideas I might have I should still be open to change on that.

"They've not just played well individually, they have combined well too.

"But I don't believe in this fetcher versus fetcher situation, it very rarely crosses. The game's not won on how many poaches you get against how many poaches they get.

"That dynamic has worked for England and I understand why they pick that bigger back-row.

"My thoughts weren't framed by their combination or this game in mind; it was just about what was best for us.

"Scott Fardy's actually playing in there too, he tries to get noticed by growing that beard as long as he can, but he's doing a great job in there too."

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