Finegan: first Test forecast

by Owen Finegan

Stuart Lancaster's England side became the first host nation not to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup.

The English Rugby team was the laughing stock of the top tier rugby nations. There was a number of articles and jokes ridiculing them, making fun of their inability to get out of their own pool stage.

The English Rugby team was given a rock star pre-tournament gala joining Take That and a 48-piece orchestra to celebrate the start of the tournament. English Rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson urged the players to stay focused urging to stop "talking about the final when you are playing pool matches."

The team was reeling even before the squad was finalised with England teammate Tom Wood accused of undermining Chris Robshaw's position as captain.

During England's pool match against Wales they were seemingly in control, up by 10 points with 20 minutes to play. Uncharacteristic errors, some tactical replacements and questionable decision making allowed Wales to steal the game from under their noses.

After England's comprehensive 33 - 13 loss to Australia in the Rugby World Cup the team were fined for breaching media protocols, assistant coaches were warned for breaching the match official protocol attempting to speak to referee Romain Poite at half-time and journalists were claiming bad attitudes from players drinking beers in the press gallery area after the loss.

Eddie Jones has turned England around. Photo: Getty ImagesFast forward six months and England dominated Wales five tries to one in their Six Nations match up and beaten them again last week in preparation for their summer tour.

There is a newfound belief and composure within the squad. A grand slam Six Nations, their first in 13 years, brings an English team to Australia brimming again with extra confidence.

Eddie Jones is the only one talking and is conspicuous in his commentary around the game. There is less to be seen and heard from the English squad with Jones purposely taking the spotlight. Jones has been almost comical suggesting a national conspiracy undermining his team, that Super Rugby puts him to sleep, saying he will be bringing ''Bodyline' back to Australia, he will be singing the English national anthem and even going as far as selecting the Wallabies squad for his former Randwick team mate Michael Cheika.

Eddie has promised there is more to come from England after their Grand Slam success, stating that the best is still ahead. Improving over the eight-week Grand Slam period and proving that they were the most dominant team in Europe were just the first steps in their journey.

Jones has installed English bad boy Dylan Hartley as his captain,to lead from the front. Hartley has an eye-catching track record and was dropped from the 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

Despite claims that he should be rested due to concussions and lack of match fitness, his set piece prowess and physical approach have been a key part of the post-World Cup revival and Jones's Australian bodyline plan.

The Wallabies hit a low point in 2014. Photo: Getty ImagesRewind 12 months and the current Wallabies squad was going through its own turmoil with players questioned over their priorities and whether they put themselves fore the teams.

Cheika's Wallabies have transitioned to Rugby World Cup finalists and this English team will be trying to make the same improvements.

But after a Rugby World Cup dominated by Southern Hemisphere teams Jones should be less concerned with Cheika's Wallabies and more with his own squad.

There is a gap to be bridged and though the first outing for the Wallabies is traditionally rusty, the speed of the Wallabies' game style will lead to a test win by over 10 points at Suncorp Stadium.

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