SYDNEY – Australia may have dumped England out of their home World Cup on a courageous run to the final last year, but fullback Israel Folau believes the past will count for nothing when the teams clash again in June.
The series-opener against England in Brisbane on June 11 will be the teams’ first clash since Michael Cheika’s Wallabies punted the World Cup hosts from the tournament with a 33-13 drubbing in a group match at Twickenham in October.
Plenty of water has flowed under the bridge since, with England resurgent under new coach Eddie Jones after their Six Nations grand slam triumph earlier this year.
The Wallabies, however, have not been tested on the playing field since losing the World Cup final to the All Blacks over six months ago.
Folau said there was no shortage of motivation ahead of the teams’ first ever three-match series but was dismissive of the idea that Australia might hold an edge.
“We can take a lot of confidence from what the team built upon last year but once we roll into camp it’s starting back over again,” Folau told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday at the unveiling of the new Wallabies jersey.
“Consistency’s a big thing. Last year’s all done and dusted now. But we want to continue what we’ve started. Cheika’s done a great job with the team so far and the boys are all buying in really well.”
With Cheika and former Wallabies coach Jones, the series will see two fiery Australians pitting wits against each other after playing in the same pack at renowned Sydney club Randwick decades ago.
Best of enemies
The pair remain close off field but have pledged to be the best of enemies once the series kicks off.
Much has been made of their rivalry but Folau reckoned Cheika would scarcely give it a thought.
“Knowing Cheik, he’ll put aside all that stuff and he’s very passionate guy,” the line-breaking back added.
“He doesn’t need any motivation at all. He loves the game and that’s enough for him. We can certainly see that by the way he’s coached the last couple of seasons.
“The boys have really learned a lot from that.”
Australia’s much-maligned pack cast off years of servitude to the English at the World Cup and Folau felt the battle up front would be key in the series.
“What we can expect is how physical they’re going to be,” he said.
“With the English side they’ve got a big pack, so you’ve certainly got be physical up front before you can do anything else.”
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