A bemused Eddie Jones has branded Wallabies halfback Nic White a hypocrite and labelled him the “biggest niggler of all time” after suggesting that England had a deliberate ploy to get under their opponent’s skin.
Jones’ remarks prompted Wallabies captain Michael Hooper to defend White, who said Australia’s energetic No.9 just loves the game.
The fuse has been lit for a brutal final clash between Australia and England at the SCG on Saturday, with both teams desperate for a series victory in front of a full house.
Australia’s Darcy Swain was suspended for two weeks for his headbutt in the first Test, but the Wallabies argued there was provocation from England second-rower Jonny Hill, who pulled Swain’s hair and shoved him in the face in the lead-up.
In the second Test, cameras caught England prop Ellis Genge pushing down on White’s neck while he was on the ground.
England have maintained there was no edict to employ any grubby tactics. White addressed the situation this week.
“Leaning on me with an elbow is a nice way to put it,” White said. “Ellis has got that in his game. We’re two guys that know each other from playing in the Prem [English Premiership]. It was just two competitors going at it.
“I knew if he gets a chance to get his hands on me he’d have a crack at me.
“There’s a fair bit of niggle that like I said, we won’t be buying into that. At the end of the day, it’s a game of rugby and the only thing that matters is who wins.”
Jones laughed out loud when informed of White’s comments.
Eddie Jones and Nic White have had a bit to say this week.Credit:Getty
“He’s got plenty to say … I hardly think he’s entitled to make that comment.,” Jones said. “He’s the biggest niggler of all time.
“That makes me laugh; the boy from Queanbeyan who niggles everyone, complaining about niggle. That’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.
“Obviously he thinks that and his perception is reality, so he’s got a funny way of looking at reality. He’s just trying to look for something.”
Hooper chuckled after being told of Jones’ remarks at the SCG on Friday ahead of Australia’s captain’s run.
England coach Eddie Jones addresses the media on Thursday ahead of the third and final Test against Australia. Credit:AP
“Whitey is just obsessed with rugby,” Hooper said. “The guy is an absolute footy nerd. He just wants to play. He’s as competitive as you’ll see. Most halfbacks are.
“He’ll be doing his usual thing tomorrow.”
White has publicly expressed his respect and admiration for Jones. He even went as far as saying he would love to take the former Brumbies and Wallabies coach out for dinner.
“If there’s one guy I definitely won’t be getting into battle with, it’s Eddie Jones,” White said last month.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.Credit:Getty
“You know when they ask that question of who you’d love to have dinner with, he pops to mind straight away.
“I’d love to pick his brain, he’s obviously a mastermind.”
Hooper said he thought the series had been played in good spirits.
“It’s been competitive and enjoyable,” Hooper said. “Both teams just want to win and we get a chance to see that tomorrow.
“[I’m] expecting [niggle] to be an element in tomorrow’s game but ultimately tomorrow is all about who is up on the scoreboard and who can do it for longer.
“It’s been an enjoyable element and a part of the game.”
The July internationals wrap up this weekend with Wallabies v England (Saturday 7.15pm AEST), All Blacks v Ireland (Saturday 4pm AEST), South Africa v Wales (Sunday 12:55am AEST) and Argentina v Scotland (Sunday 5am AEST). All streaming ad-free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport.
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