Connolly: This time it's personal

John Connolly Profile
by John Connolly

Eddie Jones has a point to prove. This time it’s personal.

His passport was stamped “never to coach in Australia again” after a failed stint with the Reds in 2007 but his return to the top has been equally as stunning.

Eddie left Australian Rugby under tough circumstances and you’ve got to tip your hat to him the way in which he’s persisted. No one will be looking forward to the June Test Series more than him.

The Reds managed just two wins under Eddie Jones in 2007. Photo: Getty Images

England have tremendous depth and no one will ever understand what happened to them at the World Cup. They looked like world champions at the 60th minute mark of their pool match against Wales and then all of a sudden it was if someone flicked a switch and the lights went out on their tournament.

The talent they have at their disposal means they won’t have to dwell on their devastating World Cup campaign for long. They’ve already claimed the Six Nations and they’ll be looking to make this series the next step in the healing process. Eddie’s abrasive style might be just what they need for an all-out assault for three Tests.

We beat them 2-0 in Australia in 2006 but England have played well here in the past and we know the Wallabies can be slow starters in June when they come together with limited preparation. Who wins this series is too close to call.

The Wallabies won the series 2-0 when England last toured Australia in 2006. Photo: Getty Images

Australia will need to play to its strengths and our biggest advantage over England is the quality of our on-ballers, southern hemisphere teams tend to be sharper at the breakdown playing in the higher quality Super Rugby competition. Our work at the breakdown will be the telling point in the series.

While depth is a strength for England it is Australia’s biggest concern heading into the June Series. There are definitely a few questions over the Australian team at the moment and halfback may be our biggest worry. Our optimal centre combination and wingers are also a concern for Coach Michael Cheika.

You can sense Michael has tensed up a little bit in recent weeks and you can tell how important this series is to him. He has some obvious short term challenges to overcome with his team.

Australia’s success at the World Cup was fantastic, but the margins are so fine in Rugby. A bounce of the ball either way in the Wales and Scotland matches and we could have been talking about a much different tournament for the Wallabies.

The Wallabies World Cup could ended differently if it wasn't for Bernard Foley's penalty kick. Photo: Getty Images

So I think it’s going to be tougher than many are predicting for the Aussies, but this series is exactly what Australian Rugby needs.

As there is each time the June Series rolls around, there is plenty of talk about the international match calendar.

I personally think it’s a waste of time bringing it up every year because nothing will change. Certainly there is no appetite to change the length of the season in the north and I don’t believe we should compromise by shortening the Super Rugby season as a solution.

I would argue strongly that the current set up is best. It gives Australian fans quality Rugby from mid-February through to August. The structure of the Super Rugby competition, however, is one for another day.

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