England look for Bodyline inspiration to rattle Wallabies

Grand Slam champions England under wily Australian coach Eddie Jones have vowed a confrontational “Bodyline” brand of rugby in a bid to upset Australia in their Test series opener in Brisbane on Saturday.

Jones, England’s first overseas coach, is priming his side for a physical three-Test onslaught on the Wallabies, who eight months ago dumped the hosts out of the World Cup.

But England have yet to lose under Jones after he guided his new side to a first Grand Slam title in 13 years earlier this season, and optimism is high within their ranks ahead of the three-Test series against the world’s second ranked side.

Jones has been preparing his players for the series by providing them with footage of cricket’s infamous Bodyline Ashes tour of Australia.

England’s cricketers beat a Don Bradman-inspired Australia in 1932-33 by using aggressive tactics, an approach Jones wants his side to employ.

“To beat the Wallabies in Australia you have to play a physical, aggressive brand of rugby and that’s what we intend to do,” Jones said.

“We have to be in their faces from the first minute of the first Test.”

England traditionally rely heavily on their set piece and scrum which has dominated Australia in the past, most notably at Twickenham in 2005 and in the 2007 World Cup quarter-final in Marseilles.

But under Michael Cheika’s coaching and the input of Argentine forward coach Mario Ledesma, the Wallabies scrum overpowered England in Australia’s biggest victory at Twickenham in the pool stages of last year’s World Cup.

Australia will field all four of their props from that Twickenham match on Saturday after tighthead Sekope Kepu joined the squad from France this week, linking up with Scott Sio, Greg Holmes and James Slipper.

“He’s shown us clips (of the Bodyline series) to reinforce his point,” England prop Dan Cole said, adding that England must utilise their trademark forward power if they are to win their first series in Australia.

“We have to play our own style; we need to play to our strengths,” he said.

– New blood –

Jones, who coached Australia to the 2003 World Cup final where they lost to England, faces his former Randwick club team-mate and good friend Cheika in a battle of wits and tactics.

“Australia are ranked second in the world, they’ve got the best coach in the world and they’re playing in their own backyard so they are going to be strong,” Jones said.

He cagily added: “In Australia, we’ve won three Tests since Captain Cook arrived, so it’s not a great record is it?”

Cheika, who is rebuilding after reaching last year’s World Cup final, has named three new caps in his starting side with Brumbies lock Rory Arnold, Queensland Reds centre Samu Kerevi and Western Force utility back Dane Haylett-Petty.

“We have a good mix of new blood and players who have been connected to the group for some time and the energy and enjoyment within the group has been excellent,” he said.

England captain Dylan Hartley will lead a side with a total of 539 international caps, with Saracens’ Owen Farrell starting at fly-half and Northampton Saints’ Luther Burrell at inside centre.

The forward pack is unchanged from the one that started in Paris earlier in the year when England beat France to be crowned Six Nations champions.

Cheika is defending Australia’s proud record of only three defeats out of 17 Tests against visiting England sides and has refused so far to rise to Jones’ needling.

“My focus is very much with our team,” Cheika said. “I very much want to dedicate all the energy I have to our guys and making sure I’m doing my job properly.

“I don’t want my players to think that all that stuff is going to win us the game.”

England have yet to win in four Tests in Brisbane, including a nightmarish 76-0 drubbing at Suncorp Stadium in 1998.


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