Australia is not seeking revenge against England, says coach
Australia will not take on wounded World Cup hosts England on Saturday with revenge on their minds, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said.
An Australian win at Twickenham could condemn England to the ignominy of being the first World Cup host to fail to reach the knockout stages.
However, Cheika refuted the idea that Australia’s heartbreaking defeat in the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney — to a Jonny Wilkinson drop goal in the dying seconds — is a motivating factor.
“That would be the wrong reason to be playing the game,” said Cheika as he announced his starting XV on Thursday.
“Anything we are doing here is for us,” he told reporters.
“When you go through 80 minutes of warfare — or our version of it — you need bigger motivations than that.
“That motivation can go away in a heartbeat as soon as one thing goes wrong. Motivations have to be from deep inside.”
Other reasons to win “are quite superficial because they dissipate very quickly when there’s 82,000 English people screaming at you in the stadium.”
Cheika, who has turned round the Wallabies in less than a year after a troubled term under Ewen McKenzie, gave short shrift to provocative statements from England No. 8 Ben Morgan, who said he and his fellow pack members would expose the Aussie scrum.
“I know they think we’re weak in the forwards. It’s pretty obvious that they’re saying it out loud,” said Cheika, who guided Australia to the Rugby Championship title in August, including a remarkable 27-19 win over the All Blacks.
“They’ve done it to us, they’ve stuck it to us the last couple of times so there’s nothing we can say in our room that’s going to make any difference.
Cheap Rugby Talk
“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 colors. “Talk’s cheap, you know.” Cheika, the only coach to have won a European Cup and a Super Rugby title with Leinster and the Waratahs respectively, said he did not know whether England lack self-belief after their devastating 28-25 loss to Wales last Saturday. He said his focus is only on Australia.
“For many years, we have struggled a bit because maybe from external pressures or for whatever reason that really strong belief in the team as a whole and ourselves was absent.
“I feel we have worked really hard on that over 12 months since we got together in the last spring tour.
“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.”
Cheika said self-confidence be- comes infectious.
“It is not something that just comes and goes. You have to build it and you have to have it. I don’t think you can have it one week and lose it the next.
“It makes you resilient for the losses. When we got beaten by New Zealand in the second game (41-13), we did not all of a sudden lose our belief.
“You have got to take those failures, move on and build on from those and be successful after that.”
Cheika said England had made a huge mistake in their tournament approach if they just considered Saturday’s match against Australia as their World Cup final.
“I would be surprised if that is the case as from our point of view, every game is a final.
“It is tournament play. I don’t think you can all of a sudden decide ‘it’s the final, we had better play’.”