England wise up to shrewd Wallabies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England wise up to shrewd Wallabies

By Darren Walton 13/11/2008 04:05:33 PM Comments (0)

Veteran prop Phil Vickery - the sole survivor from England's 2003 Rugby World Cup final triumph over Australia - has cautioned his rookie teammates against underestimating the cunning of the Wallabies in Saturday's Twickenham showdown.

Vickery agreed with forwards coach Graham Rowntree that England would be foolish to be "conned" by the British press into believing they would hold a scrum advantage simply because of their recent history of demolishing the Wallabies at the set piece.

The 32-year-old tighthead says Australians are too talented and too shrewd for the Wallabies not to have improved since being monstered by the England pack in last year's World Cup quarter-final in Marseille.

"I grew up as a young man watching Australia and they were always the best in all sports - tennis, golf, shove ha'penny, darts... they are good at everything," Vickery said.

"When we sometimes look at things and moan about things and try to find a reason not to do something, what the Australians are very good at is they go away and go: 'What do we need to do? How can we get better at that?'

"The new (ELV) rules, for example, they say: 'Let's embrace it'. They are a lot more proactive.

"If you look at the Australia team in particular - and I've watched them a lot since the World Cup and in the Tri Nations - their lineout, their scrum, they've made huge improvements.

"That's not luck, that's through coaches and detail. There's been a transformation. Look at their recent games, what's happened in the last 12 months.

"When you look at Mr (Michael) Foley, their (forwards) coach, having played against him and talked to the guy, technically he's a fantastic coach who knows forward play - scrum and lineout inside out - as well as anyone I've ever spoken to.

"Sometimes, you can't change things overnight. It's a gradual process, but they are reaping the rewards of some bloody hard graft."

New England coach Martin Johnson, who captained the Red Rose in the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney, also praised the Wallabies for their rugby smarts.

He urged his young charges - including five backs with just 10 Test caps between them - to treat the Wallabies with respect and not be lulled into a false sense of security by all the media hype for England.

"The Australian backline is always very smart," Johnson said.

"They have Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess is a dangerous runner as well. Mortlock, Cross, Mitchell, Ashley-Cooper are all impressive, so you have to be on your toes against them.

"They are smart but also skilful, quick and powerful. They have a good coaching set-up. We need to be on our game."

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