England 'raging favourites' to win World Cup pool game - Cheika

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Manu Tuilagi and Steffon Armitage for England
Cheika says England will be "raging favourites" for their 3 October match even without Tuilagi and Armitage

Australia head coach Michael Cheika says tournament hosts England will be hot favourites to win their World Cup pool gameexternal-link when they meet on 3 October.

He added that in the absence of Steffon Armitage and Manu Tuilagi England would be without two "great players".

But he insisted: "I don't think they're going to be lacking anything when they play at Twickenham against Australia.

"They beat us up there last time and they will go into that game raging favourites."

Toulon flanker Armitage has been omitted because he plays his club rugby overseas, while Leicester centre Tuilagi misses out after being convicted of assault.

"It's none of my business to be honest, but Armitage is a fine player and I'm certainly pleased it's another great opponent we won't have to come across," Cheika told BBC Radio 5 live.

Armitage's absence - coupled with the return to fitness of Brumbies flanker David Pocock - has led to suggestions England may be exposed at the breakdown in October.

But former Leinster coach Cheika still thinks Lancaster's side will be a considerable force, adding: "It's up to us to do our best to stop the chariot when it's on fire."

Australia head coach Michael Cheika
Wallabies boss Cheika described England dual-code prospect Sam Burgess as a "fantastic player"

Tuilagi was ruled out of the World Cup after pleading guilty to three counts of assault and one of criminal damage this month, and Cheika says the tournament will be poorer without the 24-year-old.

"It's a little bit disappointing because he's such a talented player," Cheika said.

"It's a bit of a shame he won't be able to fulfil his potential on the world stage at the World Cup."

However, the Wallabies boss praised England's other midfield options, with Bath's in-form Jonathan Joseph shining at outside centre during the Six Nations.

"England have a lot of really good centres I think, with young Joseph and [Brad] Barritt," said Cheika.

One of the headline inclusions in Lancaster's 50-man party is rugby league convert Sam Burgess, who moved to Bath earlier in the season from Australia's South Sydney Rabbitohs, and Cheika is adamant the player can have a major influence for his country in his new code.

"I think he is a fantastic player and a fantastic guy," he continued. "I really hope that he makes it to the World Cup because I think he will add to the England team if he does, no doubt."

Hear more from Australia head coach Michael Cheika on Matt Dawson's Rugby Show from 21:00 BST on Tuesday. Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards is among the studio guests.