By Nick Mulvenney
OITA, Japan (Reuters) – Australia’s Matt Toomua listed the weaknesses of his former team mates in the England squad on Thursday but his inside knowledge may not be a great deal of use to his Wallabies team mates in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final.
The 29-year-old played with England flyhalf George Ford, centre Manu Tuilagi, scrumhalf Ben Youngs, winger Jonny May and prop Dan Cole at Leicester Tigers for three years and said he was prepared to reveal all to reporters in Oita.
“I will list (their weaknesses) now for you if you want?” Toomua deadpanned at a news conference.
“Manu is a terrible snooker player, George Ford never pays for a beer, Ben Youngs isn’t even the best rugby player in his family, let alone the country.
“The chicken, Jonny May, very weird and Dan Cole doesn’t have a personality. So I have just been telling everyone about that.”
Like Ford — who was a shock omission from England’s starting line-up for the match — Toomua will start on the bench at Oita Stadium and said, joking aside, that he had a healthy respect for his former club mates.
“Look, we obviously had a very good relationship with a lot of the fellas there and one thing I do know is that they’re all quality players,” he said.
“Obviously I have been sharing the knowledge I have got on them as well but the thing is with guys like that, there are no glaring weaknesses. Besides the fact that George never pays for a beer, there is no glaring weakness.”
Toomua is not alone in the Australia camp in having a former club mate on the other side of the fence for Saturday’s game.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and his England counterpart Eddie Jones played together at Sydney’s famous Randwick club, where they were both mentored by the recently deceased Jeff Sayle.
“I think ‘Cheik’ has done a really good job,” Jones told reporters.
“I’m proud of the job he does. He’s a good old mate of mine and there will be a bloke in the sky who will be quite excited about Michael and I coaching against each other this week.
“I’m sure he’s having a few beers next to St Peter now looking at the situation.”
Cheika was less effusive when asked about Jones, pausing before bemoaning the fact that, like England’s recent cricket coach Trevor Bayliss and current rugby league boss Wayne Bennett, he was an Australian helping out a rival.
“He’s been there for a bit now he’s done a good job but always hurts me when there’s an Aussie over there, you know what I mean?” he said.
“Trevor Bayliss and Eddie, Wayne Bennett, you know, because you want them at home. But it is what it is.”
(Editing by Toby Davis)