Michael Cheika accused prop Dan Cole of scrummaging illegally “since his career started” as the war of words between the Australia coach and his England counterpart Eddie Jones intensified.
England host Australia at Twickenham on Saturday in a Test underscored by an increasingly tetchy spat between friends and former Randwick teammates Jones and Cheika.
Former Australia boss Jones aired his concerns with the Wallabies’ scrum tactics straight after his England side’s 27-14 win over Argentina on Saturday — and now Cheika has hit back.
“He wants to talk about our scrum because we’re cheating in the scrum — an important thing to note is he’s got to look at his own players,” said Cheika of Jones’ comments on Australia’s set-piece.
Targeting Cole, who was sin-binned in England’s win over Argentina on Saturday, Cheika continued: “They are the ones who have a prop with a yellow card.
“That same prop’s been infringing the law since his career started probably, if not all of this year.”
England boss Jones declared straight after the Argentina victory that he would seek a meeting with Jaco Peyper, the man to referee the Australia clash, to discuss what he considers the Wallabies’ illegal scrum tactics.
Cheika initially shrugged off the early pre-match salvo when quizzed on Jones’ comments following Australia’s 27-24 loss to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday night.
But, having settled into this week’s preparations in London, Cheika steeled himself for the verbal jousting – and did not hold back.
While Cole was sin-binned against the Pumas, back in England’s summer Test series against the Wallabies the 68-cap tighthead was singled out for criticism by the Australian media.
England won the series 3-0 but boss Jones hit out at an orchestrated campaign against his side from the home media, feeling Cole bore the brunt. Former Australia coach Bob Dwyer produced a detailed critique of what was branded Cole’s illegal scrum technique.
Now Cheika has picked up the theme, accusing Cole of “boring in”, illegally breaking his bind to scrum at an angle and gain an unfair set-piece advantage.
The Australia boss, however, insists he hopes referee Peyper will be able to see through what he considers Jones’ pre-match smokescreen.
“If he thinks the refs are that naive that if he has a go at our scrum they’ll forget about his guy, that’s up to the ref,” said Cheika.
“It’s not up to me. Nothing I can say will make a difference about that.
“It’s up to the referee whether he gets influenced by that.
“The guy (Cole) has been boring in and falling down all of June, that’s his tactic.
“If he thinks that me saying something back on that is going to change the referee’s mind, that’s totally up to the ref. I don’t think the ref should be influenced by that anyway.”
England boss Jones invited Cheika to attend his planned meeting with referee Peyper ahead of Saturday’s Twickenham showdown.
Cheika said he would take up that opportunity, just as he had ahead of the summer’s second Test in Australia in June.
Former Leinster boss Cheika also claimed England coach Jones had “stormed out” of one of the pre-match referees’ briefings during the summer’s three-Test series down under.
“How can I refuse an invitation like that?” said Cheika, when told Jones had offered to invite the Australia coach to his pre-match meeting with referee Peyper.
“He’s running on our media, he’s organising the meetings for the ref and for the Australian team.
“It is funny how your tune changes. In the summer when we asked for those meetings, he was blowing up and he stormed out of one.”
England scrum coach Neil Hatley launched a staunch defence of Cole’s set-piece technique in response to Cheika’s barbs.
Asked if Cole adopts an illegal technique, Hatley replied: “No, absolutely not. It seems to be a common theme from (an) Australian watcher.
“Coley’s one of the most respected tightheads in the world. He has been outstanding so far.
“When people have a go at him he just keeps his head down and maintains his form. I think he’s a quality scrummager.”
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