Eddie Jones says he’s prepared for anything the Wallabies throw at England.
Eddie Jones says he’s prepared for anything the Wallabies throw at England.

Jones takes charm approach to win over doubters

Eddie Jones has called a truce in his war of words with Michael Cheika, delivering a gushing defence of the under-fire Wallaby coach's record and his shock decision to select Jordan Petaia to start in their World Cup quarterfinal.

 

The two former Randwick teammates have trading friendly insults for years but with both men's jobs possibly on the line this weekend, Jones offered an olive branch by praising the job Cheika had done with the Wallabies.

 

"I just think we've always been mates, we just don't see each other very often," Jones said.

 

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Eddie Jones says he’s prepared for anything the Wallabies throw at England.
Eddie Jones says he’s prepared for anything the Wallabies throw at England.

"I live in Bagshot (southern England), so it's pretty hard to get from Bagshot to Coogee for a coffee. So we don't see each other but I'm proud of him.

 

"I reckon he's done a great job for Australian rugby. He has his heart on his sleeve, he gives it everything he's got, you can't ask for more than that."

 

Cheika has been heavily criticised for chopping and changing the Australian team throughout the World Cup and has sprung another surprise by picking Petaia to start at outside centre against England.

 

Jones acknowledged that the Wallabies were taking a massive gamble by picking the teenage rookie and he didn't hide the fact English will try to exploit his inexperience, but said if Cheika thought he was up to it then he almost certainly was.

 

"He's a handy player. I've seen enough of him to know he can play a bit, but it's going to be a big occasion for the boy," Jones said.

 

Jones spent time coaching the locals on the eve of England’s big game against the Wallabies.
Jones spent time coaching the locals on the eve of England’s big game against the Wallabies.

"He's playing a quarterfinal in front of 40,000 people in Oita where you know that you don't get another day.

 

"This is the day, and for a young player you can either rise to the occasion or you can find it difficult, and I don't know his mindset but if Michael picks him then we'd anticipate that he's ready to play."

 

Outside centre Henry Slade said he's also expecting big things from Petaia but if he doesn't handle the occasion, England will pounce on him.

 

"He has been picked in the squad because he is a bloody good player," Slade said.

 

"I don't know if that (inexperience) plays such a big part now because everyone in these squads are top players and don't get affected by things like that, but if it is a thing then it will probably help us."

 

Henry Slade has been given the job of marking Jordan Petaia.
Henry Slade has been given the job of marking Jordan Petaia.

The English have won their last six matches against Australia since Jones took over but have struggled to produce their best at the World Cup so far and made some tough selection choices of their own to try and combat Australia's new midfield and improved forward pack.

 

Jones remains wary of Australia's history of lifting their game at the World Cup and is expecting the Wallabies to be at their best so he made the surprise decision to drop his in-form five-eighth George Ford, and bring in Slade - who has only played 40 minutes of rugby this season and none at the World Cup - to mark the dangerous Petaia, as well as making two changes to his forward pack.

 

"Australia brings a particular set of issues that we have obviously looked at, in terms of their attack and in terms of the way they defend. They defend a lot differently from most teams," Jones said.

 

"He's made the decision for his team and he thinks that's right, and they're a well-coached team, just look at his record.

 

"As I said, I'm very proud of what he's done, he's got a team to a World Cup final, he's got them in the quarter-finals, before that Australian rugby was in disarray so he's done a great job for them."

George Ford has been dumped to the bench in a surprise move.
George Ford has been dumped to the bench in a surprise move.