BEPPU • England coach Eddie Jones said he was proud of Australia boss Michael Cheika as he prepares to face his old teammate in tomorrow's World Cup quarter-final.
Jones and Cheika played in the same pack at Sydney club side Randwick before finding greater fame as coaches than they ever did as forwards who, between them, never won a Test cap for Australia.
The duo were deeply moved by the recent death of their Randwick mentor Jeff Sayle, with the England coach telling reporters yesterday after naming his side: "There will be a bloke in the sky (Sayle) who will be quite excited about Michael and I coaching against each other this week. I'm sure he's having a few beers next to St Peter now looking at the situation.
"We know about Australia, they are a great tournament side. I think 'Cheik' has done a really good job. I'm proud of the job he does. He's a good old mate of mine."
At 59, Jones is seven years older than Cheika and was Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 final to England in Sydney.
And it was thanks to Cheika's Wallabies condemning England to a first-round exit in 2015 with a 33-13 win at Twickenham that led to former Japan coach Jones being appointed to his current job.
England have won all six of their Tests against Australia since Jones took charge, but he will not be underestimating the Wallabies.
"They are a clever team. They play good rugby, they've improved their scrum and line-out over the last six to 12 months considerably and that makes them more difficult to beat."
Australia are a clever team, they will have some specific attacking strategies to play against us so we need to have a great situational awareness. We need to defend with brutality and when we have the ball we need to play on top of them.
EDDIE JONES, England coach, weighing up his quarter-final opponents.
LEAP OF FAITH
We felt that this would be a game that would suit him. I trust him infinitely and that's why he's been chosen.
ANTHONY CHEIKA, Australia coach, outlining his faith in teenager Jordan Petaia, who will become the Wallabies' youngest Test centre since Jason Little 30 years ago.
As for that run of victories over Australia, he insisted: "The great thing about the World Cup is that each game is a game in itself so whatever you've done in the past doesn't really affect what you are going to do on Saturday."
England go into tomorrow's match in Oita having not played for a fortnight after their concluding pool match against France was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis.
Jones sprang a big surprise yesterday by naming Owen Farrell to start at fly-half against Australia, benching George Ford and bringing in Henry Slade to join Manu Tuilagi in the middle.
He has long bounced Farrell between fly-half and centre and appeared to have settled on playing him at 12 in Japan, where Ford has been one of England's most impressive players operating at fly-half.
However, by dropping Ford to the bench and giving Slade his first start of the tournament, Jones could be looking to combat Australia's midfield power, particularly the dynamic Samu Kerevi.
"Australia are a clever team, they will have some specific attacking strategies to play against us so we need to have a great situational awareness," Jones said.
"We need to defend with brutality and when we have the ball we need to play on top of them."
Cheika, meanwhile, said he had no doubts at all about Jordan Petaia's ability to rise to the occasion after selecting the teenager to play his first Test at outside-centre.
The 19-year-old, who made his Test debut in the pool match against Uruguay, replaces James O'Connor in a centre partnership with Kerevi that will face England's re-worked midfield of Tuilagi and Slade.
"We just watched the games and made the assessments of each player as they went along and there were things that we liked," Cheika said of Petaia. "And we felt that this would be a game that would suit him. I trust him infinitely and that's why he's been chosen."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS