Match Preview: Australia v England 1st Test - Green and Gold Rugby
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Match Preview: Australia v England 1st Test

Match Preview: Australia v England 1st Test

I don’t want to overstate things here, but does anyone else feel this is a little like a Lions tour?  I’m guessing we’re not going to be inundated with white walkers from the north throwing their pounds around like we get when the Lions come to town every 12 years. And perhaps I’m just trying to find some sort of replacement for that mentally scarring official Lions tour of 2013 (just nine more years until retribution). However as Dennis Denuto once said – it’s the vibe.

So this is the first time ever that the Wallabies have taken on the Poms in a three-match test series and that alone contributes to the Lions-feel. The fact that we are taking on an English team that have shown all signs of being highly competitive as distinct from some of the ‘tourists’ sent down for previous mid-year test series, has created almost unprecedented interest in the series.

Of course what has helped with the hype has been the relationship between opposing coaches, Michael Cheika and Eddie Jones. I’m not sure if there’s anything I can add here that hasn’t been already covered elsewhere. Suffice to say the traditional media have used it as a promotional anchor for the series however it’s now time for the action on the field to take the limelight.

Australia

Australia’s amazing performances at RWC2015 proved to many doubters (me being one of them) the true credentials of coach Cheika. His ability to draw his squad together and focus them on a united front, after a period of such turbulence, was one of the more impressive coaching performances in Australian sport of late.

There seems little doubt that Wallabies will enter this upcoming and historic test series confident of securing a series win. Whilst the Super Rugby season has been, to put it generously, hit and miss, the majesty of Cheika seems enough to secure a positive outlook among the Australian rugby fans.

After a number of mid-season camp outs and coffees involving an extended squad of seemingly 80% of Super Rugby players, a squad of 39 players (really 42 or so) got together on the Sunshine Coast for their first proper hit out since Twickenam last year. That squad was trimmed to 30 (really 33 or so) with speculation mounting as to who wasn’t training, who would play in some of the more debatable positions and who was having babies (not Mrs Lealiifano it would seem).

Originally it was thought that Cheika would stay pretty loyal to his World Cup incumbents, but there are in fact numerous changes from that Grand Final 23 man squad. Congratulations to test debutants Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi and Rory Arnold, who will start at wing, centre and lock respectively. Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby could also snag a first test cap if he features from the bench. All three starting rookies have been rewarded for excellent Super Rugby form and the challenge will be, for DHP and Kerevi specifically, whether they can reproduce their excellent attacking work at the next level. Both a stats leaders for their respective teams but will be tested by the high pressure environment that is, ahhh, a test match.

England

There’s no getting around the fact that England’s performance at the RWC last year was sub-standard. In fact the best performing team at the World Cup were the tournament organisers who put on a terrific event. The only thing they couldn’t control, however, was England missing out on the finals, and performing so insipidly.

The RFU reacted and the appointment of Eddie Jones was a pretty strong statement of intent, and when the aggressive little hooker picked another, in Dylan Hartley, as his captain the message was clear.  Greater intent and purpose, both on and off the field, would be the way forward, with the famous Jones brain strategising around the clock.

Results were pretty damn instantaneous as England won this year’s 6 Nations and secured their first Grand Slam in 13 years.  Together with the development of a bloody strong Under 20s program (winners in 2013 and 2014, Runners up in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015) and Eddie has a lot of talent at his disposal. He’s stayed loyal to his starting pack that secured the 6 Nations against France, whilst created a new halves combination between Owen Farrell and Ben Youngs, whilst also opting for Marland Yard on the wing.

Key Match Ups

The Tall Timber

Anyone who listened to our podcast with the EggChaser guys, know that the Poms are pretty content with the status of their lock stocks at the moment. Whilst Aussie fans were busy working out who to pick for their starting spots, the Pommy fans were seemingly trying to rack their head around who to leave out! As it turns out the Saracens pair of George Kruis and Maro Itoje both start with Man of the Match Joe Launchbury joined by the extremely talented Courtney Lawes on the bench. The remarkable Itoje has been picked and is one to watch for us Aussies, coming with plenty of hype, so watch out for his work at the breakdown as well as his dynamic play in the loose.

For the Aussies, they have stuck with their RWC incumbent in Rob Simmons and the 2.08m Rory Arnold makes his test debut alongside him. Simmons still can’t quite convince the mass public of his credentials as a test lock despite him coming off arguably his best season in Wallaby colours. The towering Arnold, by no means the physical athlete that Itoje is, adds some considerable size to the Wallaby pack and hopefully the physicality that Kane Douglas did for us last year. Lineouts will always be the tangible manifestation of this battle, but it will both their work-rate around the field and their impact at the tackle and breakdown that will be also be significant on the outcome.

Podcast favorites

One of the lines in the sand drawn on recent podcasts of both the EggChasers’ and our own, is around the flyhalf position. Using the age old testing stick of ‘who from the English team would make the Wallaby team”, our friends from the north had little hesitation in proclaiming that Owen Farrell would get the 10 jersey. Whilst their podcast is obviously pre-recorded in the UK, you could almost hear the spit take of both Matt Rowley and Hugh Cavill as their respective coffees sprayed their respective keyboards.   And they would not be alone in such a reaction. One only has to go back to these countries’ last encounter at the World Cup for the argument for Bernard Foley. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest it was the best kicking game from a Wallaby flyhalf since the days of Michael Lynagh, whilst also bagging a brace of tries in the process.

Now the EggChaser lads were suitably praiseworthy of Foley however were steadfast in their selection of the English 10. Whilst Farrell has just lead his club team Saracens to the Premiership title, he featured at inside centre in the English team’s 6 Nations campaign.  From there his goal kicking proved crucial to securing the trophy in wins over Wales and France, whilst he created tries as well. The EggChaser described him as the best flyhalf in Europe so he’s clearly shown more up there then most Aussie have seen of him and goal kicking will prove crucial in what should be a tight series. So will, though, will be getting the ball in those classy outside backs on both sides and which 10 delivers this most effectively should stand triumphant at the end of this test match.

Hookers and captains

How good is this? I haven’t been this excited about two hookers going at it with each other since Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 7!  It’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Forget the glory stuff outwide, here we have just two complete hard cases going head to head in the middle of two of the most physical forward packs in recent times. To the surprise of many, given his workload last year and (let’s say it) his advancing age, Stephen Moore has been in wonderful form for the Brumbies this year. By all reports he has formed a strong working relationship with his Wallaby coach and his leadership significance stretches far beyond just the playing field.

English Eddie made Dylan Hartley his captain in one of his first roles as newly appointed coach. Whilst some scoffed at the appointment, given Hartley’s questionable discipline, it was a statement made as to Hartley’s commitment to the cause. His uncompromising nature has gotten him in trouble in the past, but Jones wants it harnessed to provide his team the old school workmanlike attitude often overlooked in modern day rugby teams.

Prediction

Originally I had expected the Wallabies to sweep the series, but I have got an awful feeling that my sons and I will see a Wallaby defeat at the hands of the English in the stands of Suncorp this Saturday night. Much like the Japanese upset South Africa, Eddie has had this game circled in red ink in his schedule for some time. He knows this is the big one and that the English must come out of the gates fast if they want to win the series and he’s been planning for it for months. The Aussies, on the other hand, look a little disjointed. Whilst I’m glad to see some of the new talent on show, it just seems a bit too much of a risk in the conditions given the three rookies are not just new to the team, but weren’t even part of the RWC squad last year.  It’ll be a bloody good encounter, but I’m tipping England by 4.

Teams

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.

Reserves: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 James Horwill, 20 Dean Mumm, 21 Sean McMahon, 22 Nick Frisby, 23 Christian Lealiifano.

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell.

Date: Saturday, June 11
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20.05 AEST (11.05 UK time; 10.05 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

  • harro

    Eddie may have had this match circled in red for some time but that’d be it. I doubt that his focus would have been on anything but the 6N up until recently. A completely different scenario to the preparation and focus he could put into that single match Japan played against SA.

    Wallabies by 10

    • London Waratah

      Harro…Bang on! You’ve swayed me. As IF Jones could contemplate June before a month ago.

    • he’s been talking about this tour from the minute he took the job – even through the 6 Nations he talked about getting to a point where England can beat SH teams.

      Obviously he’s taken each game as it comes but he’s certainly been developing to this tour by bringing in guys like Clifford, Daly and Itoje in the 6 Nations and Harrison and Yarde in the Wales game.

      • harro

        I’m sure he’s had a eye on the development of his squad but is that any different to any other coach? It’s far cry from the multi-year sole focus he was reported to have for that Japan v SA match

        • of course, one was planned over a few years one was planned over a few months – he’s only been in the job since November.

          But from the minute he came in he has been talking about playing Australia in Australia – it might actually be one of the main reasons he took the job.

          He’s got a few scores to setle in Ausralia.

        • harro

          Well here’s hoping they remain unsettled ;-)

    • RugbyReg

      I’m not so sure. He’s publicly said a few times how important this match is for the series. And he’s a big match coach. He’s been preparing for this for while without a doubt, even during the 6 nations.

      • harro

        And Cheika? He’s had this as his focus since the WC. With no other distractions (except maybe contract negotiations). He’s also had 6 test matches of the Poms from this year to analyse. I reckon in the preparation stakes Cheika and the Wallabies have got it over the Poms

  • Jay-c

    Ye of little faith.
    Let’s not forget that this is Australia playing. They may have 3 locks and a kicker…. But we’ve got no weaknesses in our defensive line and a strong scrum.
    Additionally, the white walkers will have no answer for the aggression of the pooper, the speed of pholey, the muscle of kerevindrani, they certainly have no Folau and let’s not forget tgc.
    Give them a half to blow out the cobwebs and we’ll run them off their feet in the last 20.
    The good guys to win it.

    • JJJ

      I think a few chip-kicks behind our centres might create some defensive weaknesses. I don’t imagine they turn too quickly.

      • Margaret

        The kerevindrani is not for turning

      • Patrick

        Chip to Folau?

        • JJJ

          He has to hang back to take the bombs. The last thing we want is a lineout in our 22.

    • Seb V

      Kerevi and Kuridrani’s slow turning speed is a weakness in defence. Our general lack of speed out wide, or throughout the whole back-line is also a weakness. I still see us kicking ass though.

    • Mike Wolff

      Whoops.

  • LadyD

    I’m assuming from EJ’s picks (and seeing their reserves for the first time here) that the poms will try to wear us down with an aggressive power and territory game, they will back themselves in the line outs & then attempt to match our speed at the back end.

    I think we will handle but my main concern is our goal kicking accuracy versus theirs, hope I am proved wrong.

    It will be uncomfortably close till the whistle blows. Still think it will be ours by 3…Go the Wallabies!

  • It’s really going to come down to whether England have to chase a game – if they do they wont’ be able to chase down the Wallabies. If they can build a lead they’ll do well and if that lead can include a try in the first 15-20 minutes then it’s going t be super close with Englands defence going into overdrive in the last 15.

    In all I think Australia by 10 but good game.

    • harro

      My worry is that the English have had 6 matches together recently and the Wallabies none. I reckon we will be right under the pump for the first 20-40 minutes and I think you’re right that it might come down to the English defence in the last 15 minutes of the matches.

  • Davo

    I also had a choking fit when the Eggchasers nominated Farrell. I think the issue is that Farrell is very good at the traditional Engish 10 role of kicking scrum penalties and drop goals. Whereas Australians prefer a 10 who can engineer tries.

    • Duncher

      Same. .. I was at work and nearly yelled at my headphones. .. too funny

    • harro

      And if we are winning the breakdown and have parity at scrum time those opportunities to kick penalties are going to be few and far between.

    • Gegonago

      Then you haven’t been watching Saracens this season then. Your entitled to your own opinion but saying Farrell can’t engineer tries is laughably ignorant

      • Seb V

        I’m very interested to see some footage of Farrell, I tried youtube but his whole highlights reel was him kicking goals. Wish NH rugby footage was more accessible.

        • here you go: https://youtu.be/17VPyY4cUeQ it’s a bit of a saracens supercut but there is a lot of Farrell in there – he’s really developed his attacking skills – he’s one of the best off loaders put of contact in England.

    • He’s completely changed his game – he’s been the best 10 in Europe this seaosn outplaying Dan Carter, Johnny Sexton etc…

      He’s not as atacking as Foley but he moved past the traditional roles a long time ago – really suggest watching some of Saracens tries o see how involved he is in a lot of them – he’s very much a 2 touch player now and he’s probably the best off loaders out of contact in England.

  • Hugh Cavill

    I just wonder if we’ve lionised Eddie Jones a bit too much.

    The bloke is a good coach, but he’s not the messiah. Yeah Japan beat South Africa, but did they make the Quarter Finals? No. It’s not like he took them to win the thing.

    Remember Eddie at the Reds? The words ‘train wreck’ come to mind. And while he achieved a few good things as Wallaby coach he also left the cupboard pretty bare in terms of trophies, losing pretty much everything we had won under Macqueen.

    I get that he will have had this game ‘circled in red’ for a while. But so would Michael Cheika, who is an equal or better coach to Eddie Jones.

    • harro

      The media certainly has. I had to laugh listening to Ian Payten on Rugby 360 banging on about how good a job Eddie Jones had done distracting the media from analysing the young, raw English team. I think they were his words. So he’s aware of what Eddie’s doing (as it seems most other commentators are) but falls for it all the same. I think that says more about Payten’s ability as a journalist than Eddie’s quality as a master mind-gamer. Or possibly it’s just the pressure from editors on journalists to produce sensational pieces over quality journalism. I have to admit, I don’t read Payten’s work and so I am basing this only on what he has focused on while on Rugby 360.

      • Hugh Cavill

        I don’t think it’s ‘sensationalism’, there definitely is more interest in Eddie than in England here. But that’s not unusual. How often do our journo’s do a thorough analysis on the visiting side? It’s normally focussed on one or two stars, or in this case, the coach.

        • RugbyReg

          like I said, he’s a big match coach. That Japan performance was brilliant as was the 2003 SF win.

          He plucks them out.

          Get ready for it. If they are to win a match, it’s this one.

        • Keith Butler

          Very true. If we lose this one it’s going to be a struggle for the rest of the series. Good luck to both teams and lets have a great match.

        • Hugh Cavill

          I don’t disagree with you Reg that this is probably their best chance at victory.

        • harro

          Sensational might not have been the right word. Fluff pieces, maybe

      • Braveheart81

        That’s the narrative though and it’s what people read. Very few people will read a detailed analysis of a touring side in the MSM. Payten wouldn’t be doing his job if he ignored Eddie Jones and all the comments he has made and wrote an analysis few would actually read.

        • harro

          You are right, of course, which is why I mentioned the editors. BTW, Payten was the one who mentioned analysis, not me. So we currently have the status quo, which comes about from Payten doing his usual job. Nothing to do with Eddie. I guess that was my point that, at least in Payten’s case, the media is lionising Eddie.

    • Brisneyland Local

      He is not the Messiah, he is just a Very Naughty Boy!

    • Train Without A Station

      I wonder if we hard on his 2 seasons of failures and just disregard the other 90% of his successful career.

      • Joy

        Wow, eleven posts in a row about the coach with no player analysis. Eddie has certainly achieved his purpose on this blog

    • McWarren

      Spot on Hugh, I’ve never really got the whole Eddie Jones following. I think he gets more coverage due to his personality than his coaching ability. Even when he took over at the Brumbies he jumped into a seat well warmed by Macqueen and didn’t add much.
      My concern here is that Eddie may well fall back on his love of total structure, no ad lib play. This may well suit England, who dont lack big cattle to follow such plan.

    • Seb V

      Eddie may be idolised too much but after the RWC failure by England, I think it was only natural for the team to lift their game. They will be absolutely pumped to prove a point. Which is dangerous itself.

    • A80

      He had almost four years to plan for one RWC game and credit to him he delivered a masterpiece. Japan also punched above their weight in the group but it would be fair to suggest they just couldn’t cope with the quick turn around before the Scotland game. With respect the expectation from everyone was pretty low and he over-delivered massively. Now the expectation is very high so it will be interesting to see how he delivers against opposition who are a massive step up from what England have faced so far this season.

    • Seaweed

      With you on this one. His record is pretty good but I remember being pretty pissed off with him and his selections until we dusted the Darkness in the 2003 semi (which e.g. vindicated him hanging on to Gregan as long as he did) Before that it had been pretty lean.

  • RednWhite

    I think EJ’s bottled it a bit. Was looking forward to seeing something a bit more creative than the stodgy old Robshsaw/Haskell partnership (i swear Robshaw’s giving someone backhanders). Itoje or Clifford at 6 would be interesting. Anyway, i think it’ll be a nervy game but a very physical one at that. I think the WB’s will just about take this one but hopefully (from my point of view) England put in a good showing and gain confidence that they’re able to compete with a top team and build on that for the next test. WB’s by 3.

    • Keith Butler

      Agreed. Not surprised that he’s gone conservative though . I would have like to see Launch at lock and Itoje a 6 for 1st test. If we don’t win then I reckon we may struggle for the rest of the series cos the WB’s will get better. Still I’m lookoing forward to close games. Come the final test however I wouldn’t mind seeing MV, Hartley, Cole, Kruis, Launch, Itoje, BV, Clifford, any SH, Farrell/Ford, Nowell, Slade, JJ/Daly, Yarde, Watson to develop ahead of the autumn internationals and 2017 6Ns.

      • A80

        Agree with that but to be honest some of that development should have been done over the past 6 games. Given his game against Wales the call not to even have Clifford on the bench seems odd especially given Jones previous comments about the need for quicker and more mobile flankers when we play Southern Hemisphere teams.

    • A80

      Agree about the call at flankers. This feels like the game for an all or nothing gamble to me. First hit out against a hopefully rusty Wallabies team and we chose two flankers who are not considered quick in thought or deed even in the Northern Hemisphere.

      • Mike Wolff

        “Whoops” re Haskell then!

        • A80

          Not really. He was exceptional but there was nothing to suggest that from his last 6 England caps under Jones or the 60 odd for England before that. That is as well as he has ever played. Lets see if he can do so again next week. If he can I will be even more impressed than I was with yesterdays performance.

    • Haz

      Clifford nowhere near strong enough at the breakdown yet to deal with Pooper.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Good write up.
    My view is Suncorp has always been a fortress for the Reds and the Wallabies (Except against NZ). The weather will be warmer than a usual winter here in Brissy. At match time it will be between 17-22 Degrees depending how quickly the evening cools down. There will still be a bit of humidity in the air. For the Aussies this wont be a problem, for the Soap dodgers it will be warmer than they are used too.
    The pitch is firm, even after all the rain we had up here last weekend. So the speed of the match should be pretty quick. Unlike the Six nation and lead up matched the Soap Dodgers have had.
    I think in the last quarter team fitness is really going to come into play. And as Eddie has said to his team publicly, They are not Southern Hemisphere fit.
    Finally the Poms only landed here in Aus on Wednesday, therefore they will still not be fully timezoned or acclimated. I think this will have an effect.
    BL’s prediction: Wallabies by 7-10 points.

    • RedDogRugby

      Other than a horror year in 2013 (tight Lions loss and a spanking by the Boks), I don’t believe we’ve lost in Brisbane since 2008. Shame we never get a Bledisloe up here.

      • Chris

        Maybe it is more about the opposition that the ground?

        • Brisneyland Local

          There are multiple factors when facing your foe, terrain is a very important one. The impact of the ground and environment should never be doubted!

        • Chris

          Have you blokes set it up so the enemy are always running up hill with the sun in their eyes up there. Napoleon would be proud.
          We need a fortress somewhere, and Suncorp is good enough for me, although now the Stockade is a test venue, lets hope it can become one too (probably will – not likely to play the All Blacks, Boks or B&I Lions in a 30k seat stadium).

      • Michael Hassall

        We lost to the kiwis a couple of years ago at suncorp on the night mckenzie resigned but agree otherwise suncorp is a fortress. Its exciting this series, really looking forward to it, wallabies to win it, looking forward to kerevi getting a crack.

  • Sideshow

    And Cheika will have had the next All Blacks game circled in red. The White Walkers are mere road bumps on the path to greatness.

  • Tim

    If our 12 & 13 play well i think the English back-line will struggle keeping them contained. My only worry is that we have no second play maker. Would be interesting to see if izzy stood at 10 if Foley was to get tackled

    • Jb15

      I think it will be Haylett-Petty filling in there if he is close enough

    • jamie

      Or Kerevi, or a crash ball. It’s not like foley touches the ball every time.

  • McWarren

    Great article Reg, bar the final decision. I do think it will closer than a lot of people think, over the whole series.
    Really looking forward to battle of the Hookers, the fullbacks and just how effective Big Billy V will be getting over the advantage line. I predict that we will win but a big lesson will be learnt in the value of a bullocking line bending back rower.
    Any odds on which minute of the match Mike Brown will throw the toys out of the pram?

    • A80

      Billy needs more help on the carry. He’ll get some from his locks but we really need better options at flanker. We certainly have them in potential but it feels like only a loss will make Jones change the composition there.

  • Mica

    Any oil on what the replacement English front row will be like?
    Will it be much of step down from the starters?

    • Gegonago

      Mullan and Hill are arguably better than Mako and Cole at scrum time. LCD is probably third choice behind George at hooker as he isnt 100% yet.

      Hartleys being playing 70+ mins under Jones so its unlikely we will see much of LCD tho

    • MM

      Cannon fodder, mere chaff in the breeze.

    • Keith Butler

      Our scrum will be much better than the RWC which was a complete shambles. Stronger run on front row and the replacements won’t be shabby either, all young blokes looking to impress EJ. Importantly the lock pairings will also be stronger. I actually think that’s where our problems at scrum started in the RWC. Should be an ‘interesting’ confrontation. You’ll definately have the upperhand in the back row though.

      • Michael Hassall

        I just hope the front rows concentrate on strength, technique and a genuine contest rather than the rubbish that the soapdodgers tried on at the world cup.

        • Keith Butler

          Agreed but I suppose conning the ref to milk penalties is now part of the game. Much rather as you say have a genuine contest.

      • Haz

        I also think there were issues with fitness/conditioning and having a small hooker.

    • A80

      Mullan, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Hill.

      Mullan on the loosehead is arguably a stronger scrummager than Vunipola who starts but he offers less around the field. He’s an occasional captain for his club team Wasps and is solid rather than exceptional in most aspects of his play.

      LCD is an interesting one. A hooker for club team Exeter Chiefs who were the runners up in the English Premiership this season. Its questionable if he’s the best English hooker at his own club but he seems to be highly thought of by both this and the previous England regime. He was a Junior RWC winner and is very solid in the scrum and very busy in the loose. He has struggled with accuracy at the lineout previously but seems to have improved in that area. Both he and Hartley are fortunate to be ahead of Jamie George who is the hooker for Saracens where he plays with Englands locks Kruis and Itoje. He’s been the best hooker in the Premiership for the past two seasons but ruptured his bicep in mid season and is only just back and still not looking quite on the pace.

      Hill is another Junior RWC winner. He plays his club rugby at Northampton alongside Hartley although he only joined them last season and is still a bench player there where Brookes is the starter. Brookes is a very good tighthead but seems to have fallen foul of Jones fitness demands and so is off on the South Africa tour. Hill is an excellent tighthead both technically for one so young and he is good in the loose with decent hands, surprising pace and excellent jackalling if given a sniff at the breakdown.

      So our bench are probably all (as of the 6 Nations) third choices or below but they are still a talented bunch and the set piece should remain strong when they come on. The side as a whole could really have done with a coach like Ledesma rather than Hatley who has been unimpressive for his club side Bath so it will be interesting to see if he has managed to make a positive contribution in the brief times he’s been with the squad.

      • Patrick

        Bench players in the forward pack are by definition third choices ;)

        • A80

          Eh? Not if they’re the front three surely. All of the bench players have at least one player who through injury, fitness or ruling themselves out is not available. No complaints from me just said it to give context as to where they are in the pecking order. Full strength we’d likely have Marler with Vunipola on the bench at loose, Hartley with George on the bench at hooker and Cole with Brookes on the bench at tight.

    • Haz

      A slight one but a front row of Hill, Taylor, and Genge took apart the substitute Welsh front row at the end of the game 2 weeks ago. Hill is a very strong tighthead, but young. Mullan is a solid scrummager but loses out to Mako due to far less impact around the pitch.

      Also remember that they’re likely to have Itoje at 6 with Kruis and Launchbury in the second row to give them some grunt. (I believe it will be England’s biggest back row ever fielded if Itoje, Vunipola, and Hask are in it).

  • Patrick

    I think their success in the 6N will make them sub consciously underestimate us and we will spank them.

    • Gegonago

      about that

  • I don’t know about the breakdown. The most hotly contested area of the game will be the Mike Brown interview if the Dodgers lose.

  • PiratesRugby

    I don’t know that the poms have an advantage in the second row. Simmons, Arnold and Fardy sounds like a pretty competitive outfit to me. Horwill is a safe pair of hands. Mumm is a dud.
    Phipps/Foley is our real weakness but the last time Foley played the poms he kicked them off the park! Whilst Phipps/Foley will never win us back the Bled, they’ll do fine against the poms. Another two tries from Foley would be acceptable.

  • Mad Dutchman

    Wallabies to win by 20… And Launchbury to be man of the match.

    • Gegonago

      sorry…you were saying?

  • Nick

    Go the Wallabies!

  • Ulrich

    Ah yes Poite. We remember him well here in SA. As a Frenchman I suspect he’d be inclined to favour Australia above England. Especially since Aus are home.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Ulrich, I agree that he will have no love for the English, but he certainly has a love of the sound of his whistle and his own voice!

Rugby
@RugbyReg

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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