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Wallabies focus on beating England

2015-10-01 14:08
Michael Cheika (Getty Images)

London - Knocking England out of Rugby World Cup contention is only a secondary consideration for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

After announcing Australia's starting line-up for Saturday's crucial Pool A match at Twickenham, Cheika was asked if narrow losses to the English in the 2003 final and the 1995 and 2007 quarterfinals provided any extra motivation for the Wallabies. After a loss to Wales, England must beat the Australians or risk an early exit from the tournament it is hosting.

"It's the wrong reason to be playing for, mate," Cheika said. "Like, if you're playing for that reason, then you haven't got a real reason of why you want to do it yourself.

"Those other things are superficial because they dissipate very quickly when there's 82 000 English people screaming against you in the stadium."

Australia has won the Rugby World Cup both times it has been staged in Britain - beating England in the 1991 final at Twickenham and France in the 1999 final in Cardiff - and Cheika said he's treating every game like a final in a bid to continue that sequence.

The Wallabies kicked off their campaign with a 28-13 win over Fiji in Cardiff, five days after England opened the tournament with a bonus-point win over the Fijians at Twickenham.

Australia's second-string line-up beat Uruguay 65-3 in Birmingham on Sunday, a day after England lost 28-25 to Wales.

As expected, Cheika reverted to the starting XV from Australia's opening game. He delayed a decision on the composition of his reserves bench.

Most of the focus is on Australia's backrow, where Cheika again opted to start David Pocock at No 8 and vice-captain Michael Hooper on the openside flank.

Pocock and Hooper are noted fetchers and No. 7s, giving Australia potential for quick turnover ball at the breakdown, but including both means the Wallabies will give up a considerable size advantage to England.

It doesn't bother Cheika, who said he had selected his backrow for its combination and the way the loose forwards - along with blindside flanker Scott Fardy - play complementary roles.

Criticism of the Wallabies scrum, widely perceived as the team's biggest weakness in recent losses to England, doesn't concern him, either.

"I know they think we're weak in the forwards. It's pretty obvious - they're saying it out loud," Cheika said, adding that the only place the Australian pack could prove itself was on the field. "We've got to show our colours. Talk is cheap."

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