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Michael Cheika concentrating on getting Australia back on track

Published 29/11/2016

Michael Cheika is more concerned with his misfiring Australia team than a war of words with Eddie Jones
Michael Cheika is more concerned with his misfiring Australia team than a war of words with Eddie Jones

Australia's top stars insist Michael Cheika will reserve all his fury for his misfiring Wallabies - not England boss Eddie Jones.

Wallabies head coach Cheika has traded a clutch of verbal volleys with England counterpart Jones in the build-up to Saturday's Twickenham Test clash.

Ex-Australia coach Jones lit the fuse by claiming Australia scrummage illegally, before Cheika struck back, asserting his old Randwick team-mate has tarnished his reputation in his homeland.

Taskmaster Australia boss Cheika has been tipped to focus on living up to his hardman reputation with his squad this week however, rather than waste time being wound up by Jones' media tactics.

"Well you haven't seen anything, if you reckon Cheik's fired up in a media conference," said Wallabies lock Rob Simmons, of Cheika's famous no-nonsense coaching approach.

"I haven't really noticed any difference in his mood, because he gets stuck into us forwards every day."

Australia botched a host of chances in Saturday's 27-24 defeat to Ireland in Dublin - and fly-half Bernard Foley admitted those errors have left Cheika fuming, and not Jones' media volleys.

"I think Cheik's pretty fired up in every meeting we have with him, so there's not much change there," said Foley.

"He's far more disappointed over the loss on the weekend.

"We watched the review yesterday and it wasn't that pretty. We left a lot of opportunities out there and left a lot of chances that we just didn't take.

"And that was the disappointing thing.

"It took us 35 minutes to get into the game. Against a quality side like Ireland you can't afford to do that.

"We created a lot of opportunities and we didn't start playing footy until half an hour in, or that second half.

"So that's something we've addressed and have to be better at.

"When this side's playing good footy we match it with anyone in the world.

"But we have to do that for the full 80 minutes rather than just one half of rugby; that's not enough at this level.

"It's such a big occasion playing England at Twickenham, they are going really well, and it's a great challenge for us. So that's where the excitement comes from."

Playmaker Foley masterminded Australia's 33-13 thumping of England that dumped the hosts out of the World Cup at Twickenham in 2015.

Now the 27-year-old will be desperate to inflict yet more pain on England, especially after new boss Jones led his side to a three-nil Test series win in Australia in June.

While Foley has rejected the idea of revenge for the Wallabies' June humbling down under, he believes Cheika's side have "matured" since the summer series.

"A lot of guys were on debut or in Test footy for the first set-up back in June," said Foley, in a year where Australia have handed out 13 debuts.

"So just as a squad being able to gel real combinations, and just spend time together, that's been massive for us.

"This year's been very character-building for this side, and I think that's shown.

"I think guys will walk away from this year having learnt a lot and will be far better in the future because of it.

"We've matured a lot and now need to reap the benefits of that."

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