Michael Cheika may have just overseen Australia’s 13th consecutive win over Wales but he was already bristling at the prospect of taking on England on Saturday.
“We understand the pundits over here don’t think we have much of a chance,” he said. “They have already given England 3-0 for November. One guy said: ‘All respect to Australia, but a decent club side would beat them.’ So I don’t think there is too much for them to worry about. We will prepare every day like we are going to play our best game on Saturday and go from there.”
Naturally, when Australia and England meet these days, thoughts turn to the battle of wits between Cheika and Eddie Jones, his old mate from Randwick. Cheika did his best to insist, as ever, that there was nothing in it. “It is irrelevant. It is Australia versus England, that’s all that counts. It is not about ‘fun’ with Eddie. We will have fun on our own in camp, and then we will prepare ourselves each day the best we can.”
For Wales, the misery of that 13th defeat in a row to opponents they must face again in the pool stages of the World Cup in two years’ time was compounded by the likelihood Jonathan Davies’s autumn is over. “It looks like an ankle injury,” Warren Gatland said. “He’s just being strapped up and is on crutches. It doesn’t look brilliant, but we’ll know more in the next 24 hours.”
To lose a player of such experience from Wales’s new-look midfield would be a terrible blow but Gatland was pleased with how the three players making their home debuts played, as well as the blooding of three new caps from the bench. He rued the controversial try with which Australia took their lead out to 13 at the start of the final quarter while Wales were pressing to retake the lead. Nevertheless, he was not of a mind to make anything of it.
“If Kurtley Beale hadn’t scored that freakish try, there was a good chance we could have won the game. I haven’t had a look at [the knock-on]….