Wallabies coach Michael Cheika can’t wait to renew his rivalry with Eddie Jones and England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Buoyed by a gritty 26-7 win over a fired-up Italy in Padova, Cheika and his players will head to their season finale in London in great spirits and believing they can end a miserable 2018 on a high.
The Wallabies haven’t beaten England since their 2015 World Cup pool clash at Twickenham, with Jones coming out on top in the last five encounters against his former Randwick teammate.
Despite their shared club playing history, Cheika and Jones have endured a frosty relationship.
It boiled over in 2016 in London when Cheika accused the former Wallabies coach of tarnishing his legacy after making comments about scrummaging techniques of Australia’s props.
But despite enduring a miserable calendar year which has seen his side win just four of their last 14 games, Cheika has no fears about heading to Twickenham.
“It’s not as much for me and Eddie, it’s more about Australia and England,” Cheika said.
“We’re always up for it. I love it.
“I love going to Twickenham. Love the crowd hating us, we genuinely love it all, the boys love it, I love it.”
Jones has also endured his fair share of criticism this year due to some indifferent form from a team that had won their first 18 matches under his guidance.
However, he found support from Cheika, who insisted Jones deserved nothing but praise for the way he has revived England following their miserable 2015 World Cup.
“To me, seeing a guy like that, when you say pressure, that’s crazy,” he said.
“They’ve won 20 or 30 games with him.
“The guy’s taken them to another level since the World Cup.
“I don’t get that stuff personally, because for mine their play under him has improved, and they’re playing good footy.”
Despite two strong defensive showings against Wales and Italy, the Wallabies desperately need their attack to improve if they are to have any hope of beating their old rivals.
Matt Toomua played well against Italy at five-eighth and Cheika said he could well have played himself into the starting line-up next week.
Bernard Foley, who was moved to inside centre, was responsible for the Italy try after throwing a poor pass that landed on the ground and was replaced in the second half by Kurtley Beale.
With Beale almost certain to return to the starting line-up at Twickenham, Foley could find himself on the sidelines.
“Matt’s done enough from before today, and well into his form overseas, that’s why we wanted to bring him back,” Cheika said.
“We pushed hard for him to come back, it wasn’t really on the cards at any stage from last season when I contacted him about coming back.
“I thought since he’s been back, today was definitely his best game.”