Eddie Jones is winning the mind-games merry-go-round

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    Michael Cheika is an emotive coach at the best of times, so the weekend’s loss to England was going to draw a response worthy of the highlights reels.

    It did.

    How much of that emotion though is rooted in the Eddie Jones factor?

    Jones, Cheika and Steve Hansen of the All Blacks have spent years circling each other. When it comes time for two to face each other, the gloves come off.

    Cheika’s worst case scenario was the English broadsheets and tabloids showing pictures of a grinning Jones, above game reviews assessing how Jones outsmarted him again.

    Whoever plays the role of onlooker tends to become philosophical about the other two.

    Last year, Hansen wondered about how Jones seemed to have bullied Cheika during the series here, how that may have had something to do with the history of the two playing together at Randwick.

    This year, with no match up against England in the offing, Hansen is waxing lyrical about Eddie’s resurrection of the English team, and Eddie is telling anyone who’ll listen that his team is still 20 per cent behind the All Blacks.

    Next year sees the first meeting between the two.

    Hansen’s thoughts on Eddie’s dossiers and Eddie’s on Steve’s tactics will have a whole different complexion in the lead up to that confrontation.

    That would be the perfect time for Cheika to chip away at anything he can identify as a sore point for either Jones or Hansen.

    So much of Jones’ power is the feeling he is smirking knowingly over your shoulder because he has seen the weaknesses that his team will exploit – that he is ahead of you and you have missed things which are hugely apparent if you just look close enough.

    Cheika needs to forget about the ranting and arm waving and learn the art of making Jones believe that he has missed something.

    Cheika must develop a knowing grin, suggesting he has seen something in the epic that will be England vs All Blacks that the Wallabies will use to beat either of them in the tournament that really matters.

    That would make the year a whole lot less enjoyable for Jones.