Australia v England preview

by Staff Writer

Head to Head - Aus 24 Eng 18 Drawn 1 (43 matches)

AUS v ENG Last five

Eng 4 - Aus 1

AUS LAST 5 - WWWLW

ENG LAST 5 - LWWLW

Teams

1. Scott Sio (12 Tests)

2. Stephen Moore (c) (97 Tests)

3. Sekope Kepu (58 Tests)

4. Kane Douglas (18 Tests)

5. Rob Simmons (55 Tests)

6. Scott Fardy (25 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (vc) (47 Tests)

8. David Pocock (51 Tests)

9. Will Genia (61 Tests)

10. Bernard Foley (22 Tests)

11. Rob Horne (28 Tests)

12. Matt Giteau (97 Tests)

13. Tevita Kuridrani (25 Tests)

14. Adam Ashley-Cooper (vc) (109 Tests)

15. Israel Folau (34 Tests)

Reserves

16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (56 Tests)

17. James Slipper (69 Tests)

18. Greg Holmes (19 Tests)

19. Dean Mumm (39 Tests)

20. Ben McCalman (42 Tests)

21. Nick Phipps (34 Tests)

22. Matt Toomua (27 Tests)

23. Kurtley Beale (55 Tests)

England

1. Joe Marler (35 caps)

2. Tom Youngs (26 caps)

3. Dan Cole ( 54 caps)

4. Joe Launchbury (26 caps)

5. Geoff Parling (27 caps)

6. Tom Wood (40 caps)

7. Chris Robshaw (c) (41 caps)

8. Ben Morgan (30 caps)

9. Ben Youngs (51 caps)

10. Owen Farrell (33 caps)

11. Jonny May (18 caps)

12. Brad Barritt (25 caps)

13. Jonathan Joseph (14 caps)

14. Anthony Watson (13 caps)

15. Mike Brown (41 caps)

Reserves

16. Rob Webber (15 caps)

17. Mako Vunipola (25 caps)

18. Kieran Brookes (14 caps)

19. George Kruis (8 caps)

20. Nick Easter (52 caps)

21. Richard Wigglesworth (25 caps)

22. George Ford (15 caps)

23. Sam Burgess (4 caps)

Key Match-ups

Israel Folau v Mike Brown

Wallabies fullback Israel Folau has missed just two Tests since making his 2013 debut against the British and Irish Lions - last month’s match against the USA and Sunday’s against Uruguay. He has been a mainstay of the side and among the best in almost every game he’s played. Brown was impressive for England in their opening two matches but this will be a major challenge for him. Folau is near unrivalled under the high ball and his ability to keep the ball in play and generate attack for the Wallabies will be critical

Tevita Kuridrani v Jonathan Joseph

Tevita Kuridrani will face one of his toughest Tests on Friday, facing off against English outside centre Jonathan Joseph. Kuridrani was one of the form Wallabies in the Rugby Championship, including scoring the winning try in the opening match of that tournament against the Springboks. If Folau has been Australia’s key, then Joseph is the one England have rested many hopes on after his standout Six Nations series.

Bernard Foley v Owen Farrell

The battle of the playmakers is always pivotal to a match and it will be again. Owen Farrell has been preferred over George Ford this tournament and his kicking accuracy gave them the edge early in their loss to Wales. Foley’s kicking has improved in his last two Test matches and he is some ways a similar type of player to Farrell, playing well to a structure. Foley is a direct attacker who brings others into the game, particularly those playing outside him including Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rob Horne.

Michael Hooper/David Pocock vs Chris Robshaw/Ben Morgan

The Hooper/Pocock combination looked unconventional at the start of the Rugby Championship but now it has become one of the Wallabies’ most damaging. Pocock was man of the match against Fiji with two first half tries and he and Hooper continue to complement each other at the breakdown. England’s back row will welcome back Ben Morgan, a relief for the hosts after they lost Billy Vunipola for the tournament. Robshaw played out an enthralling duel with Welsh captain Sam Warburton on Saturday night and this should be another crucial battle.

The scrum

Okay, so this isn’t one particular player but scrummaging will play a pivotal part in Sunday’s game. Australia is likely to have the edge in attack, with their hard-running, open style well known. However, the recruitment of Mario Ledesma has borne quick results with their scrum, which is beginning to turn into a weapon. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said on Tuesday that Australia’s scrum was still “transforming” and that improvement will be on show at Twickenham. England number eight Ben Morgam threw some barbs the Wallabies' way earlier this week but Australia's coach Michael Cheika wouldn't bite when asked about Morgan's comments.

What they said

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika

“We’ve been working on that since the day we got together on the spring tour last year, to try and improve the mental strength of our team.

“In particular so that when our supporters saw us playing and in the tough matches, which most Test matches are if not all of them, (they’d see) we’re present and we’re giving everything so that our nation can be proud of us.

“And on the world stage of a Rugby World Cup that’s something we really want to show.”

England Forwards coach Graham Rowntree

"You have to keep telling yourselves how lucky and blessed we are rather than being stressed by the pressure of it all.

"You can feel the weight of the nation willing us on against Australia and I envy the guys who will be on the field.

"I remember that feeling as a player. As a coach or player, you cannot forget how lucky you are to be involved in these matches."

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