Dave Rennie has promised his patched-up Wallabies will “throw everything” at Eddie Jones’ adventurous-looking England side in a bid to end their woeful recent sequence against the old enemy.
He may be a New Zealander but Rennie reckons that he understands perfectly that this is a fixture which has a special resonance for Australians – and he wants to change the narrative of England’s domination in the Jones era at Twickenham on Saturday.
“We’re well aware of the rivalry. Dates back 200 and something years, doesn’t it? But certainly guys who’ve been in the mix a long time like Hoops (Michael Hooper) and Slips (James Slipper) have talked a lot about it this week – but we’re not getting caught up with history either,” Rennie explained on Thursday.
Rennie reckons that the fact that many of his players have never had the chance to experience a Twickenham international before will actually be a help rather than a hindrance as the Wallabies seek to end their seven-match losing sequence against Jones’ England.
“We’ve talked a lot about embracing it – it’s going to be noisy, it’ll be ‘Swing Low’ being sung in the crowd – but you’ve got to get excited and embrace that sort of situation,” said Rennie.
“it’s a massive game and a great opportunity for us , playing a great England side at Twickenham – and we’re going to throw everything at them.”
Rennie has studied England’s innovative line-up with exciting Marcus Smith pulling the strings at No.10, Owen Farrell at 12 and Manu Tuilagi picked for a rare start on the wing – but he’s not overly surprised.
“I think they’re just trying to get their best backs on the field aren’t they? I think you can guarantee they’ll move around a bit. I imagine Manu will end up defending in midfield – there’ll be hoping and changing a bit but its a very strong side.
“You look at that inside group – 9, 10, 12 , 13 – all very good kickers of the ball and I think that’ll be a very important part of the game for them as well.
“I’d almost ignore the numbers on their backs – I think they’ll mix things up and we’ll certainly see Manu playing a fair bit in midfield.”
Farrell has an amazing record for England and the British & Irish Lions against Australia, winning 10 of his 12 internationals against them, enjoying four 20-plus point game hauls, scoring three tries and making 55 successful kicks.
Asked if he felt England might be handicapped by having him at inside centre, Rennie smiled: “Gee, I hope so!”
In more serious mode, he reflected: “Look, he’s played a lot at 12 hasn’t he? You’ve got two very good kicking options when you’ve got him at 12. Obviously Farrell outside Smith, you’ve got an experienced player who can help him.
“I certainly don’t think it weakens them.”