Australia v England: Five talking points ahead of second Test including playing for today and the return of ‘Tongan Thor’

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

England head into the second Test against Australia knowing it is a must-win affair as the series is on the line following that 30-28 defeat last weekend.

Here’s five talking points ahead of the game with the inaugural Ella-Mobbs Cup up for grabs.

Will Eddie’s changes work out?

England head coach Eddie Jones has yet again rolled the dice with selection as players have been hailed, picked and then dropped. That has ultimately led to centre Guy Porter and wing Tommy Freeman getting the nod at Suncorp Stadium, while scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet is handed his first start. Joe Marchant and Joe Cokanasiga have subsequently been axed from the matchday 23 as it is clear, once again, that Jones is not afraid to make drastic changes on a weekly basis.

Play for today, not tomorrow

With a Test series on the line it must have been quite frustrating for England fans to hear Jones say this match is “the perfect practice for the World Cup”. One would think that with a fifth successive defeat possibly on the cards, the head coach would be going all guns blazing so as to gain confidence and reclaim that winning feeling in the camp. The quote has also irked former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward, who feels Test matches such as these are not for experimenting.

Big chance for Guy Porter

With Marchant dropped, the door has opened for the versatile Porter to make his case for permanent England selection. The English-born but Australian-raised player has been very impressive for Leicester Tigers this past campaign as they went all the way to Premiership glory and he will hope to replicate that form at international level alongside the experienced Owen Farrell. Backline spots are up for grabs for England and his ability to also play on the wing helps Porter’s case.

Tongan Thor on the charge

What a significant boost it is for Australia to have Taniela Tupou back in the fold at tighthead prop. His presence, not just in the set-piece, is such a lift to the Wallabies as his running game and skill-set is up there with many backs and we can’t wait to see him in full flow once again. If he rampages in the wide channels as he loves to do, throwing in offloads and side-steps, then England are in big trouble and his head-to-head battle with Ellis Genge is also going to be exciting.

Brisbane boost for Australia

The Wallabies have not lost at Suncorp Stadium since 2016 – against England – with 10 straight wins that include three over the Springboks, two against France, two over the All Blacks and one against Ireland some record from the men in gold. That will give Australia and their fans extra confidence on Saturday as England look to bounce back from last weekend’s loss. Doing so at such a fortress is a big ask of Jones’ side as the Wallabies look to extend this fine Brisbane run.

READ MORE: Australia v England preview: Wallabies to take advantage of muddled Eddie Jones selection


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