ODAWARA, 14 Oct - Australia head coach Michael Cheika has insisted his team will do very little analysis of quarter-final opponents England, preferring instead to zone in on themselves and their own expansive game plan.
As the Wallabies prepare for their most significant match in four years, player after player lined up to back Cheika's mantra that the identity of the opposition does not matter.
"Don’t really have one mate," Cheika replied when asked on Monday for his view on England's strengths and weaknesses.
"Lots of respect but I’m not a big analyser of the opposition. I’m always telling my coaches not to watch the opposition so much. They watch too much footage of the opposition.
"I’m interested in our blokes, our team and our analysis so that it can help us be better."
Australia have a poor recent record against England, having lost six in a row since RWC 2015 by an average margin of 15 points. But the coach will not be turning his gaze to the past in an attempt to improve the team's fortunes.
"I’m not trying to avoid it, but why go back and talk about all those games?" Cheika said. "I talked about those games in those press conferences after those games and then they’re done with and we’re on to the next thing.
"Looking backwards is only going to give you a sore neck."
Hooker Tolu Latu, who has started three out of the Wallabies' four RWC 2019 matches, including the defeat by Wales, was quick to back up his boss. The 26-year-old agreed that he and his team-mates are effectively "ignoring" England.
The message continued to flow from those in green and gold. The lineout, pictured, has been an area of strength for Australia throughout the tournament so far with the pack securing 94.7 per cent of their own ball against Georgia on Friday and managing four steals. But second-row Adam Coleman was adamant they are not planning to look for any advantage by studying England's efforts from the touchline.
"We’ve done some review but mainly focused on us, on how we can get better," Coleman said. "Our lineout's operating pretty efficiently throughout the competition and we want to continue to do so on the weekend."
When pushed, Cheika did admit that his team have a set of tactics in mind specifically aimed at England but was swift to add that they are "nothing that’s crazy different to what we’ve done". The 52-year-old has often revelled in doing things differently during his five-year tenure as Australia's head honcho and sees no reason to stop now.
"I’m just a believer," he said. "Call me a sucker, I believe in my lads. I know there’s other people who won’t give us much of a chance but I believe that when you believe in yourself you are much closer to being able to create history."
This attitude of defiance is increasingly evident within a squad who last year lost nine out of 13 test matches. Flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto bristled when asked at Monday's press conference whether the Wallabies could realistically halt their losing run against England, before revealing his gratitude to Cheika for repeatedly defending the players against criticism from the outside.
"It takes it off us, he is putting himself out there to be shot," Salakaia-Loto said. "He's protecting us as every good coach would do. He's not going to let his players hang out to dry, we'd all do the same for each other."