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October 16, 2019

Mitchell expects Wallabies to stick with ‘Australian way’


October 16, 2019

BEPPU, Japan: England expect the Wallabies to play the “Australian way” when they face their familiar foes in a World Cup quarter-final this weekend.

The Australian game has long been synonymous with running rugby and few opponents have had a longer appreciation of its qualities than England defence coach John Mitchell.

“They just love moving the ball—I think that’s the Australian way as well,” Mitchell told reporters at England’s hotel in Beppu on Tuesday.“They love ball in hand and they love playing so that’s to me very much their mentality, always has been and always will be.” Mitchell was the head coach of his native New Zealand when they lost a 2003 World Cup semi-final to Australia.

Eddie Jones, in charge of the Wallabies back then is now Mitchell’s boss in the England set-up. The much-travelled Mitchell’s coaching career also includes a spell in Australian rugby with the Western Force.

Many within rugby union have long argued Australia compensates for a relatively small playing base with coaching game intelligence—an opinion endorsed by Mitchell ahead of Saturday’s knockout clash in Oita. “They will be clever on the weekend. They always are.”

England have won all six of their clashes against Australia under Jones—appointed after the Wallabies condemned the then hosts to a woeful first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup with a 33-13 victory at Twickenham.

But Mitchell said that record and his own knowledge of Australian rugby would have a limited impact on Saturday’s last-eight clash. “It’s helpful but, like anything, this is a new contest. All you can do is look at and witness the threats that they’ve posed through the way they’ve played recently.”

Australia coach Michael Cheika, who led the Wallabies to a World Cup final they lost to New Zealand four years ago after they condemned England to an early exit, suggested Monday his staff spent too much time analysing the opposition.

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