With just under a month to go before England and Australia do battle at Twickenham in the Autumn Internationals, anticipation is high and hope is rife amongst England fans that Eddie Jones will craft a masterful victory over his own national team. At England’s home with over 80,000 fans cheering their heroes on against the old foe, the stage is set for a mouth-watering clash.
But, is this really true? With their hammering of England in 2015 still fresh in the memory, their recent heroics against the All Blacks and with the best backline in international rugby, the Wallabies have the potential to blow England away.
Although England have played – and beaten – Australia since the 13-33 drubbing in the 2015 World Cup at Twickenham, it is a result that will live long in the English memory. Now, two years on from that embarrassment as the host nation on the greatest stage possible, the England players will be praying that the same does not occur in November. This pressure, as well as the added honour of being the holders of the Six Nations, could galvanise the Roses, or, it could break them.
A crowd expecting to win could well backfire against the players, whom – in the cauldron that is Twickenham Stadium – will feel as though the whole weight of England is on their shoulders. Australia, meanwhile, will arrive relaxed, knowing that the onus will be on England to perform.
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) October 21, 2017
Australia will also head into the England clash buoyed by their recent exploits against New Zealand. A 23-18 victory was Australia’s first in eight games – an alarming seven-game winless streak against the world champions came to an end in thrilling fashion. Although New Zealand had already secured the Bledisloe Cup and, more importantly, had six key first-teamers missing, the effort and determination shown by the Wallabies was nothing short of impeccable.
Two months after a heartbreaking loss in Dunedin, Australia showed that kind of grit that could easily take them over the line against an England side whose last venture abroad corresponded to two unconvincing victories against Argentina in June. With vital stars Billy Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and Jack Nowell all ruled out of the Autumn Internationals through injury, and with rumours that No.8 Nathan Hughes could miss out through disciplinary, coupled with Joe Marler’s confirmation he will miss the tests, do England have the personnel to check the Aussies’ current high?
— LengSection (@LengSection) October 25, 2017
The task to halt the Aussies remains even greater when considering that the England squad has been unsettled the past few months. A so-called “culture issue” hit the headlines in August as Tuilagi and Denny Solomona were both sent home from an England training camp for alcohol-related incidents and contravened the team’s standard of behaviour. Nobody knows yet if the squad has settled from this debacle, but, meanwhile, all seems perfectly comfortable within the Australia setup.
Australia’s backline of envy
Not only does the Australian camp seem settled off the field, but, on it, they boast one of the best backlines to ever grace world rugby. The back three which started against the All Blacks – comprised of Israel Folau, Marika Koroibete and Reece Hodge – are enough to worry any team. But, with Kurtley Beale and Tevita Kuridrani occupying the centre spots, the Wallabies really do have a special backline, comparable to very few, if any, in the world at the moment.
The speed of Reece Hodge to race 80 metres for Australia’s first in Brisbane at the weekend, the skill and dexterity of Israel Folau to register their second, and the power and strength of Koroibete to finish for Australia’s third demonstrated just how this Aussie team are littered with stars all over the field. And, with the sniping Will Genia at scrum-half alongside the orchestrator at fly-half Bernard Foley, Australia look the real deal
Can England stop them? The likes of Mike Brown and Jonny May are streets behind Folau and Koroibete and the Wallabies could really have a field day if the England backs do not play to their maximum capability.