England have promised Australia another stormy collision in Saturday’s series decider in response to their protests over the degree of niggle being orchestrated by Eddie Jones’ tourists.
Forwards coach Richard Cockerill has derided accusations made by Wallabies scrum-half Nic White and head coach Dave Rennie about off the ball provocation in the first two Tests, claiming it has been “tame” so far.
Jonny Hill instigated a running feud with Darcy Swain in the series opener, eventually inducing a head butt from the rookie Australia lock that resulted in a red card.
A week later Ellis Genge roughed up White on the floor and triumphantly shoved Michael Hooper in the chest after England had scored a try. White was upset by Genge’s actions and said he was surprised by the baiting tactics.
The rivals clash in a decisive final Test at Sydney Cricket Ground and Cockerill has promised the Wallabies even greater physicality.
Responding to White’s claim, Cockerill said “I didn’t see one of our blokes getting sent off for a headbutt.
“I keep hearing about the niggle that England have brought. I don’t know how Aussie rugby is but I don’t see that as niggle. It’s been pretty tame so far.
“So we just have to get on our with our game with a good set piece, tackle hard, clean rucks, be as physical and abrasive as we can, within the laws of the game. I don’t think it has been a particularly dirty series so far at all.
You want rivalry don’t you? You want spikiness to games. The first 15-20 minutes on Saturday.... let’s bring it on because that’s what it's all aboutRichard Cockerill
“You want rivalry don’t you? You want spikiness to games. The first 15-20 minutes on Saturday…. let’s bring it on because that’s what it’s all about.
“We have got two teams who are playing for the Test series so we are both going to be going at it.”
England’s pack overwhelmed the hosts for the first half hour in Brisbane in a powerful opening that laid the foundations for their series-levelling 25-17 victory.
Cockerill will demand one final push in the climax to the season, insisting England’s success in outmuscling the Wallabies for a second successive match will be decided by their attitude.
“Mentally we’re in a really good spot and if the brain is willing the body will follow. We’ve got no qualms that we’ll be able to bring the same physicality – and more,” Cockerill said.
“I expect Australia to come hard physically at us. They lost the physical battle early in the game last weekend and they’ll want to put that right.
“We know the physical parts are going to be really important and so within the laws of the game we want to be as physical as we can.
“They’ll have a reaction because in that first 30 minutes or so we beat them physically. So they’re going to come with more physicality – well no surprise so are we.
“We’ve got physicality in different ways all over the field. We’ll bring it as a collective. The sum of our parts is going to be our strength.
“It’s all on the line. We lost the first Test and everyone wrote us off and we were under pressure.
“Under pressure English teams come back really well and the boys were unbelievably good on in Brisbane – a place where Australia don’t lose unless they are playing England. We are looking forward to it.”