Cheika keeps faith with Wallaby hard men
01 Oct 2015 - 11:34
London: Australia coach Michael Cheika kept the faith with his hard men Michael Hooper and David Pocock to break down England's resistance in their "Pool of Death" World Cup clash on Saturday.
Cheika on Thursday named the same team that beat Fiji 28-13 in Australia's opening game for the Twickenham battle. He turned out a virtual reserve team for the following 65-3 Pool A hammering of Uruguay.
An Australia victory would almost certainly knock hosts England out of the competition. 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.
"We've been working hard each day this week to improve our game before we play England on Saturday," said Cheika.
"I believe that this group has been really clear on where we must improve and the level we must be at to compete with England and we know that it's going to be a very tough challenge.
"The group is really committed to making all Australians truly proud of how we represent them at this Rugby World Cup and Saturday night will be another opportunity for us to do that."
A Wales win over Fiji on Thursday and Australia victory at Twickenham would dump England out of the World Cup in the first round -- the worst performance by a host nation.
Cheika said this week that "every game is a World Cup final" in a sign of how seriously the Wallabies are treating the clash against their old rivals.
England have won the last two clashes over Australia and lead their World Cup record with three victories to two -- including the famous 20-17 win in the 2003 World Cup final when Jonny Wilkinson's boot secured the points for England.
In the war of nerves ahead of Twickenham, Australian playmaker Matt Giteau said Wilkinson was refusing to take his calls this week seeking advice.
Giteau said he has been speaking to his former Toulon teammate in recent months on the best way to win the World Cup.
"He won't answer my calls this week, and I've tried him a lot," said Giteau.
"He won't answer me this week, maybe next week."
The 32-year-old Giteau was excluded from the Australia side when they last played England in November when the English won 26-17.
But Cheika forced a change of policy so that foreign-based players could be in the team.
Giteau watched the game at Twickenham's corporate hospitality.
"When I was having a few beers, it never crossed my mind that they might relax the rules. The rules were in place as they were, so at that point it was just really we had a break from Toulon.
"I'm massively more appreciative of it all now that I'm back with Australia. I suppose I am more grateful than I was," said Giteau.
"When you're playing consistently I think you take it for granted - it's a shocking thing to take it for granted, playing for your country."
Cheika said that team replacements would be named after training on Thursday.