Eddie Jones smiles in his own inimitable way that he’s just another Australian with an “inferiority complex” when it comes to playing England at sport.
So the man who’s guided England to seven straight convincing wins over his home country reckons he’s ideally placed to understand just how psyched up Dave Rennie’s Wallabies will be to end their losing streak at Twickenham on Sunday morning. (AEDT)
After unveiling a powerful and innovative-looking side on Thursday, Jones, in familiarly cheeky and combative mood, noted: “I know as an Australian – and it’s probably hard for the English to understand – what an important game this is for Australia.
“This is a game where Australians don’t go away. This is the game they want to win.
“We have bit of an inferiority complex against the English, the Australians, so they’ll want to take us to where they want to.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Olympics, Test cricket, rugby league….this is the game that defines their season.
“The Australian side have had a great run recently, they won five Tests in a row and have played some really good rugby under Dave Rennie.
“A number of the staff who have worked with me are on his staff, so they’ll be very well prepared.”
To handle what he expects to be a major challenge, Jones has picked a side designed to squeeze in all his most powerful backline weapons, with the new star of English rugby Marcus Smith starting at 10, Owen Farrell outside him at 12 and Manu Tuilagi starting in a rare and unlikely outing on the wing.
How much had Jones seen of the barnstorming centre Tuilagi as a winger? “Enough,” smiled the Aussie, who knows the 30-year-old hasn’t started in that position in a Test since 2014.
“Last season, Gael Fickou played on the wing for France and was outstanding and the game lends itself to a powerhouse centre, so we’re looking forward to him playing there.
“I see (in Tuilagi) a powerful player who’s probably in the best condition of his career, who will add to the ball players we’ve got inside and will finish off the movements that we have.
“He’ll be able to roam on the field, play like a second or third centre.”
Asked by one intrepid English reporter whether his 100% winning record meant anything in the greater scheme of things and whether he particularly enjoyed beating his home country, Jones offered one of his razor-sharp put-downs.
“Zero and zero – so that’s two dots, and if you get that in a T20, you’re not having a good over,” smiled the master.
“So I’d try again.”