Together with the All Blacks and the Wallabies they have the best balanced team in the championship though Ireland, France, Wales and Argentina have also impressed and have accurate goal-kickers to make opponents pay for infringements. “Bob’s got massive experience, he’s very well respected, won a World Cup; his opinions are always out there”.
So he chose to leave the England bubble on Wednesday afternoon and expose himself to the public, taking only his pet Affenpinscher, Rico, for protection. “I think just because I might have certain ideas, I should be open to change on that front”. That’s what it’s all about.
Instead, they attempted to go for the try but were driven into touch from the lineout by ferocious Welsh defence, ruling out any hopes they had of snatching the game in the dying moments.
“I know they think we’re weak in the forwards”.
“When you’re going to go through 80 minutes of warfare, or our version of it, then you need bigger motivations than that”.
Thursday’s team naming is the surest indication yet that Cheika and assistants Stephen Larkham and Nathan Grey believe this to be the Wallabies’ strongest line-up, which will be skippered by Stephen Moore in his 98th Test. “He’s a tough guy and he’s resilient”, said Lancaster yesterday.
England still face certain elimination – and the indignity of being the first World Cup hosts being knocked out in the pool stages – should they lose to Australia. I understand where the ref was coming from too, they’re doing the best for the safety of the game.
“But in sport, a week can be a long time”. It is about what you do next.
“We have an option, don’t we?”
“The only place things are going to be different is on the field on Saturday night and that’s where we’ve got to show our colours”. If we can nullify their ability to get over the ball, it will change the way they have to play as well.
Unsurprisingly England have talked a lot about that seven-day transformation this week, convincing themselves history can repeat itself and get them back in the reckoning. It is a combination that worked brilliantly well when Cheika first tried it in Australia’s win over New Zealand in August.
Nick Easter, called up into the squad this week after Vunipola was ruled out of the rest of the tournament, is on the bench. And Cheika is again counting on the power of back-rowers Hooper and Pocock in the loose – which the Australians see as a key England weakness.
“Even in that when we were not winning games on that tour, we were working hard on that point because we knew how important it would be for the team in general and for rugby in Australia”.
Pocock and Hooper will start in tandem for just the third time in Wallabies colours, but already both feel comfortable with their highly-effective double act.
It’s interesting that the same decision that made Japan captain Michael Leitch a hero in the wonderful defeat of South Africa has made England captain Chris Robshaw a zero against Wales in rugby’s World Cup.
“It’s all on the line”. It’s that backs to the wall attitude.