- Twickenham set for visit of the Wallabies
- Get up to speed with team line-ups, key clashes and how to keep up with the action
Photo: Getty Images
The autumn Tests are always foreshadowed by intense anticipation on these shores as Twickenham prepares to welcome the men Sir Clive Woodward christened “the bad guys” – the southern hemisphere nations. With Rugby World Cup 2015 now less than two years away, this set of QBE Internationals is upon us. And more significant than ever.
Led by the returning Chris Robshaw, Stuart Lancaster’s charges have an opportunity to banish memories of their Cardiff capitulation to Wales in March and evolve into an outfit that beats the world’s best on a consistent basis, starting with the visit of Australia. There is the small matter of last year’s 20-14 defeat to avenge as well.
The Wallabies may seem vulnerable. An agonising loss to the British and Irish Lions in June saw an ignominious exit for Robbie Dean. Ewen McKenzie took the reins, only be hit by a heavy reversals to New Zealand and South Africa. However, there have been 10 tries and 87 points in his last two matches. Improvement has come and another episode of this epic Anglo-Antipodean year of sport is about to be written.
When? Saturday, November 2
Where? Twickenham Stadium
How to keep up with the action
- Live on Sky Sports 2 HD and 3D from 1.30 pm
- Regular updates on BBC Five Live
- Live text commentary on the free RFU iPhone app (search iTunes for Official RFU)
- Live score updates from @Official_RFU on Twitter
- Match report, post-match interviews and highlights on RFU.com
England: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Joel Tomkins, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Lee Dickson; 8. Billy Vunipola, 7. Chris Robshaw (captain), 6. Tom Wood, 5. Courtney Lawes, 4. Joe Launchbury, 3. Dan Cole, 2. Tom Youngs, 1. Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16. Dylan Hartley, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Dave Wilson, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Ben Morgan, 21. Ben Youngs, 2. Toby Flood, 23. Ben Foden.
Australia: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Toomua, 11. Nick Cummins, 10. Quade Cooper (vice-captain), 9. Will Genia; 1. James Slipper, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Ben Alexander, 4. Sitaleki Timani, 5. James Horwill, 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Ben Mowen (captain).
Replacements: 16. Saia Fainga'a, 17. Benn Robinson, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Kane Douglas, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Nic White, 22. Christian Lealiifano, 23. Bernard Foley.
- November 2012 - England 14-20 Australia, Twickenham
- November 2010 - England 35-18 Australia, Twickenham
- June 2010 - Australia 20-21 England, Sydney
- June 2010 - Australia 27-17 England, Perth
- November 2009 - England 9-18 Australia, Twickenham
Photo: Getty Images
Breakdown battle royale: In a disjointed but tense affair 12 months ago, Michael Hooper gave a marauding performance that suggested at his current standing as a world-class openside – a true scavenger genuinely good enough to reach the heights George Smith and David Pocock have. In the past fortnight, the exceptional Waratah has won the John Eales medal and turned 22. Now, he faces England’s captain in a pivotal face-off that could well decide the Cook Cup.
Chris Robshaw’s reappointment as skipper for these three Tests came a little surprise to insiders – he sets an impeccable example in all he does. Even so, nullifying Hooper is a huge task that will take every ounce of the Harlequin’s energy. Nous at ruck-time is a must, while Robshaw’s carrying, link-play and tireless tackling can also add to England’s effort.
Nines entwined: Contrasting characters make for the most intriguing sporting encounters, so Lee Dickson’s tussle with Wallaby talisman Will Genia should be fascinating. One has earned his 10th chance on the Test stage through sheer perseverance and exceptional domestic form. The other has been a match-winning influence at the summit of world rugby for years.
Photo: Getty Images
Both are central to their teams attacking patterns, zipping around the fringes to provide runners with go-forward ball. In harness with long-time ally Quade Cooper, Genia is undoubtedly part of a more blockbuster half-back partnership. But Dickson will not stop snapping at his heels all afternoon.
Quotes from the camps
Graham Rowntree (England forwards coach): “Last year was a steep learning curve, especially in the breakdown department. They gave us a good workout there which kicked us on.“This time round, our levels of breakdown intensity have to be up to that from the start – they are a battle-hardened southern hemisphere team.
“We’ve got to make sure we have good ball to play off at set-piece and speed of ball at the breakdown. We’ve also got to make sure we stop them having those things.”
Ewen McKenzie (Australia head coach): “They haven't played [as a full squad] since that [Wales] game and as much as there's a fair bit of hype and interest about narrowing the squad down now, and who might play ... they haven't really played for six months or more as a group.
"We're quite pleased to get them first out, because everyone's going to be watching. Since that Wales game everyone will be wanting to see what's happened in the meantime. It's not a bad circumstance for us."
Did you know?
- Australia lead the head-to-head between the sides, having won 24 of the 41 matches to England's 16. There has been one draw.
- The last time Australia visited Twickenham the autumn after hosting a British and Irish Lions tour, they lost 21-15. A certain Jonny Wilkinson scored all of England's points that day.
- Toby Flood needs one point today to reach 300 in Test rugby.
- If they win today, England have five victories in a row at Twickenham.
- This is Australia's 10th Test in 2013. They have won only three of them.