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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 06:48 GMT
Media circus turn on Wallabies

By Bryn Palmer
BBC Sport in Brisbane

Clive Woodward says he is more amused by the Australian papers with every passing day.

And after a torrid few days in the eye of the storm following 'Lugergate', the England coach must have been chuckling over his cornflakes this week.

The Australian media has, temporarily perhaps, eased its obsession with English "arrogance" and turned fire on its own team.

Australia coach Eddie Jones
The pressure is mounting on Jones

The Wallabies, and coach Eddie Jones in particular, are the ones in full metal jacket mode as they prepare for Saturday's quarter-final against Scotland.

Since the single-point scrape against Ireland in Melbourne last weekend, the bullets have been hailing down on the green-and-gold camp.

Former players and coaches have been queuing up to offer Jones advice on what is required to get Australia's campaign back on track.

Bob Dwyer and David Campese, coach and star of the 1991-winning side, were in the vanguard of course, demanding wholesale team changes.

Then Nick-Farr Jones, captain of the 1991 team, called for current skipper George Gregan to be replaced in favour of long-time understudy Chris Whitaker.

Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill, never shy to offer an opinion, has also chipped in with his two cents' worth.

"They won't progress much further if they play like that again," he declared. "It's time to actually put it together."

Teams that he is involved with tend to play last-resort rugby
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones on Scotland's Ian McGeechan

Criticism has focused on a struggling Wallabies pack, the rigidity of their paint-by-numbers style, and a stuttering backline.

"A lot of countries go through stages where the flak comes, and Australia are a prime example at the moment," noted England centre Will Greenwood this week.

"We are no different. When you set such high standards and you don't quite perform to them every game, people will make comments and have their opinions about you.

"But this World Cup will not be won in the media. It will be won by a well-drilled side with 22 players performing well on the day."

Even the 22 Jones opted for against the Scots was a source of controversy, the coach admitting he was annoyed at how their names had been leaked to one newspaper.

Having dropped two of the heroes of 1999, Joe Roff and Matt Burke, the concern now is that Jones has gambled too heavily on his trio of rugby league converts in the back three.

Australian union converts Wendell Sailor (left) and Mat Rogers
Much is expected of Australia's ex-league stars

If Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers and Lote Tuqiri click into gear on Saturday, the results could be electrifying.

But if Scotland defy the odds and expose the "league-ies" perceived defensive frailties, the ARU's 2m investment in the trio will be slaughtered.

They have played in the same side before, with Rogers at outside centre, when the Wallabies were "smashed" - as Tuqiri recalled - 50-21 by the All Blacks in July.

Jones, also accused of having Scotland's training sessions secretly filmed, has tried to jab his way off the ropes by suggesting Ian McGeechan's teams employ violent tactics.

"Teams that he is involved with tend to play last-resort rugby," said Jones, prompted by Australian memories of the Lions' confrontational approach in their series win of 1989.

"They'll get stuck in and do anything to win the game," Jones added.

Scottish supporters will be hoping he is at least right on that score.

Links to more England stories


England fined over error
30 Oct 03  |  England
Are the English arrogant?
04 Nov 03  |  Rugby World Cup

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