Preview: Australia vs England in Brisbane

International
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

England will be out for revenge on Saturday after their disappointing loss to Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup where they were knocked out of their home tournament.

A new coach in Eddie Jones and revitilised the group in the last six months where they remain undefeated under Jones, winning the Six Nations and Grand Slam for the first time since 2003.

Australia on the other hand are set for their first home Test since August last year and first Test match since their World Cup Final loss to New Zealand in November. Head coach Michael Cheika has had his squad together for the past two weeks, blooding new young talent into the group as he looks to continue Australia’s rise up the rankings. 

Key stats

England has never won against Australia at Suncorp Stadium.

Australia and England have never played a three-Test series against each other.

The last time Australia blooded three debutants in the starting XV was in game one of the 2013 Lions Tour.

Key match ups

Michael Cheika vs Eddie Jones

Former Randwick teammates who both hold an incredible amount of competitive hunger. Cheika has had his team for 18 months longer than Jones, but they’ve both managed one tournament trophy since taking over their respective teams. Jones has tried to poke the Cheika bear this week but Australia’s coach has held his tongue for the most part. Both have been quick to point to the field as the crucial barometer of success.

Bernard Foley vs Owen Farrell

Bernard Foley had a night to remember when the Wallabies defeated England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup scoring 28 points including two tries. Foley has locked down the starting flyhalf position in the last year after consistent performances and taken the lead as the Wallabies playmaker.

Bernard Foley scored 28 points the last time Australia played England. Photo: Getty Images

England coach Eddie Jones has opted for the bigger, more physical option in Owen Farrell at flyhalf over incumbent George Ford. Jones praised Farrell’s continual development in recent times as he has added more strings to his bow. Farrell has also had some big-game experience of late having led Saracens to the English Premiership and the Championship Cup in the last month.

David Pocock vs Billy Vunipola

Two very different players named at number eight making the head-to-head battle extremely interesting. Pocock cemented himself as World Class player during the World Cup, forming a formidable backrow trio alongside Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy. Known for his strength over the ball, Pocock will be looking to cause havoc at the ruck.

England have 126kg of power in the backrow. Photo: Getty Images

Vunipola is your big, typical, ball running number eight weighing in at 126kg. While he might not be as agile as Pocock around the field he does have a knack of scoring tries. Named as one of three vice-captains, the 23-year-old has loads of on-field leadership potential that sees him as a vital clog in the England lineup.

Where the game will be won

Forwards! The battle of the forwards is going to be an interesting tussle. The Australians won the contest at the World Cup with their scrum dominating England’s pack and the ‘Pooper’ combination caused mayhem. England are renowned for having a strong forward pack, and the Six Nations showed their skill at the set piece. The introduction of young lock Itoje has worked wonders for Jones’s side as they look to makeup for their disappointing loss the last time they played Australia

Australia's scrum was a huge strength during the Rugby World Cup. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

History lesson

Australia’s first official test was against a team from Great Britain in 1899 when Australian won their first ever test match against Britain 13-3 in Sydney by scoring two converted tries.

On the first ‘unofficial’ tour to Australia by a team from Great Britain in 1888 their captain, Bob Seddon, drowned while rowing on the Hunter River.

Australia played their first test against England on 9th January 1909 in London winning 9-3.

It was during this 1908/09 tour the Wallabies won 25 of their 31 matches, including the test against England and returned home as Olympic Champions having beaten the team representing the UK (Cornwall) in the Olympic final at White City Stadium.

Australia and England will play a 3 test series for the first time however they have twice previously played three tests in a calendar year - 1988 & 2010

In 2003, the Jones-coached Wallabies recorded their first home soil loss to England in 40 years (in Melbourne, 14-25), and their 4th loss in a row against Clive Woodward.

Sailor v England in Melbourne 2003

AUSTRALIA

Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Rob Horne (VC), Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Michael Hooper (VC), Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Rory Arnold, Greg Holmes, Stephen Moore (C), Scott Sio

Bench – Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, James Horwill, Dean Mumm, Sean McMahon, Nick Frisby, Christian Lealiifano

ENGLAND

Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathon Joseph, Luther Burrell, Marland Yarde, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (C), Mako Vunipola

Bench – Luke Cowan-Dickie, Matt Mullan, Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Danny Care, George Ford, Jack Nowell

The opening Test between the Qantas Wallabies and England will be screened LIVE in High Definition and ad-break free on FOX SPORTS 502 from 7.30pm AEST and LIVE on Ten from 7.30pm AEST for QLD, NSW and ACT viewers (on ONE in other Australian States and Territories). Fans can also LIVE stream the match on Foxtel Go (for FOX SPORTS subscribers) and for the first time on TenPlay.

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