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Page last updated at 23:24 GMT, Thursday, 11 November 2010

David Campese urges end to England's scrum focus

Autumn internationals: England v Australia
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 13 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and online; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles; watch live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on BBC Three and online Saturday 1900 GMT and Sunday on BBC Two and online at 1610

Quade Cooper
Quade Cooper has established himself as Australia's first-choice fly-half

Wallabies wing legend David Campese believes England must focus on Australia's backline if they are to win Saturday's clash at Twickenham.

After their pack was dominated by Wales last week, much of the pre-match talk has centred on Australia's weak scrum.

"That's great, but Wales beat Australia in the scrum last week and still lost," Campese told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Our backline is our strength and the best thing to do is attack teams at their strength."

Australia scored three tries en route to a 25-16 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium, a week after their youthful backline helped end a 10-match losing streak against New Zealand.


Their cutting edge in Cardiff was in spite of clear deficiencies at the scrum, where they conceded seven penalties including two which led to Wales' late try.

But Campese believes England manager Martin Johnson would be wrong to set up his side in the hope of dominating the match through the pack.

"Don't attack their weakness because their strength is still there," he said. "If England have got a good backline they have to stand up and be counted.

"They can't say 'We have let that one go. We are better but we didn't win'.

"Rugby is about winning, it is not about how good you are off the field at talking it up. It is about getting out there and performing."

Quade Cooper leads a potent Australia backline featuring a host of glittering young talent, and Campese believes the fly-half will present England with problems at Twickenham.

"In international rugby, if you have someone who is a bit different it puts more pressure on the opposition and I think that is what Cooper does," he explained.

"Everyone from the half-back, to the flanker, to the 10, has to watch him because they don't know what he is going to do.

"You have three players under stress all the time and that means there are definitely opportunities and gaps elsewhere."

Cooper, 22, is one of several young backs blooded by coach Robbie Deans over the past two years, along with scrum-half Will Genia (22), wing James O'Connor (20) and full-back Kurtley Beale (21).

Cooper has previously admitted having an alcohol problem and was once arrested on burglary charges.

But Genia is full of praise for his half-back partner's natural skills and new-found attitude.

He is a rare talent...He does a lot of things no-one else can do

Aussie coach Robbie Deans on Cooper

"He just has this freakish ability to pull off freakish things," he told BBC 5 live. "But the thing that has impressed me the most is that he has learned to have more of an all-round game rather than just looking for those big plays.

"He has learned how to control a game, when to go for the simple option, and he picks his moments now when to go for those big plays.

"He has now understood that it is not just about himself. All his actions affect those around him, not just friends and family, but also the team. Having realised that, he has sort of pulled his head in a bit and really started to work hard."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans also concedes he has a unique player on his hands in Cooper.

"He is a rare talent, but he is also just getting started. He does a lot of things that no-one else can do," Deans said.

"He is a player that creates a lot of excitement and interest, and it is good for the game."

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see also
England 35- 18 Australia
13 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Moore returns to Wallabies side
11 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 16-25 Australia
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Australia 26-24 New Zealand
30 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
Green and golden generation
06 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union

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