Cheika takes cheeky dig at nemesis Eddie Jones
MICHAEL Cheika has swatted away his 0-6 coaching record against nemesis Eddie Jones, saying it has no bearing on the knockout stoush against England.
It's a winner-take-all quarter-final in Oita next Saturday and it will shape the coaching futures of both figures as well as the legacy of a host of seasoned Test footballers.
Cheika is excited the blockbuster has come into full focus after the Wallabies' below-par 27-8 win over Georgia in non-stop rain at Shizuoka Stadium on Friday night.
He finished his post-match media conference by giving Jones, his former Randwick clubmate from Sydney, the first tickle of a full-on week.
"Well, I saw he was saying that (a clear training stretch with the cancelled game against France) would be an advantage and the typhoon gods were smiling on him," Cheika said.
"So I suppose they'd better win.
"They've had the best preparation according to the coach so they'd better go out there and win.
"We'll see how we go."
The improvements in the forward play of the Wallabies have been obvious all season and that is one reason they can imagine a far closer contest than the 37-18 loss at Twickenham last November when the arch rivals were 13-all at half-time.
"I'm really pleased with the way the forwards are playing. They are getting the bit between their teeth and liking the battle," Cheika said of improvements.
"They are playing physical, with a bit more speed than last year and they will be really looking forward to this contest.
"You can see it in the dressing room already."
Man-of-the-match lock Izack Rodda (three) and Rory Arnold both stole lineouts, the gold scrum bested the Georgians at their strength, and the late driving maul drive off a lineout was expertly worked for a Jack Dempsey try.
Replacement prop Taniela Tupou had exactly the impact he was picked for, delivering a thundering first run and the link work off 100-Test Wallaby Rob Simmons' deft one-handed offload that set up Will Genia's final try.
When the "0-6" record was thrown at Cheika, he had a ready answer.
"Well mate, I don't know what relevance it will have," he said.
"I don't really care, to be honest, because the only relevance is Saturday.
"That's pretty much about it. It doesn't matter, all the different things, who's had a week off, who's had a week on, who has been resting, who hasn't.
"It's going to come down to who's ready on kick-off."
Cheika takes pride in his team kicking the least of any top international side, but it was baffling that new five-eighth Matt Toomua so ignored the conditions that he didn't kick in the first half.
"I thought he was solid. He gave good direction and his chat was good," Cheika said.
Toomua's distribution was crisp, but to not play the conditions in the first half with 79 per cent of the ball was a head-scratcher.
Equally, prop Sekope Kepu turned over the ball while trying to pass quickly under defensive pressure in the wet.
Only Cheika knows whether it's Toomua or Christian Lealiifano to start against England.
"Like I do every week. I sit down with the selectors and we'll go through the pros and cons of each player according to the team we're going to play and pick what we think is the best combination of players to do that," he said.
Cheika wants to get sharper in attack.
"We knew the conditions were tricky, our carrying was strong but I thought we did drop a bit too much ball," he said.
"We just didn't have the finishing touch on a lot of stuff and we'll definitely need to fix that up."
Cheika said head-knock victim Kurtley Beale felt good in the dressing room post-match and there was plenty of time for him to tick the return-to-play protocols.
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