England clash with Australia in a must-win second Test at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday having lost the series opener 30-28. Here, the PA news agency examines five talking points heading into a game that could see the Wallabies claim the inaugural Ella-Mobbs Cup.
Eddie rolls the dice
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) July 7, 2022
At times England’s selection policy under Jones appears as though it has been put together on a roulette wheel – players talked up and picked, then discarded. This scattergun approach produces debuts for centre Guy Porter and wing Tommy Freeman as Suncorp Stadium, as well as a first start for Jack van Poortvliet, and could be the last that is seen of Joe Marchant and Joe Cokanasiga. It is sink or swim for the latest batch of recruits with Jones wanting to see if they can cut it at Test level.
“The perfect practice for the World Cup” is how Jones described a do-or-die collision with Australia which England have to win to keep the series alive and avoid a fifth straight defeat. It was a jarring statement and even though it was clarified with an assurance that Saturday is of the “utmost importance”, it adds to the sense that the here and now and is being sacrificed for an event that takes place every four years and is ferociously difficult to win. Starting three players with only one cap between them is a decision rooted in the future at the expense of the present.
Porter takes centre stage
Freeman is a thrilling prospect with the size, gas and skills to light up Brisbane from the wing, but Porter’s performance will be of greatest interested to Jones. It is hoped the 25-year-old will provide the punch in midfield that England miss so acutely in the ongoing absence of Manu Tuilagi. Leicester have benefited from his direct running and ability to break the first line of defence in their title winning season and at 6’2″ and 15stone 4lbs he has physical presence. One of the great mysteries of English rugby is its failure to produce powerful centres and Porter is the latest solution to the problem.
A heavyweight collision looms in the front row when the Wallabies prop dubbed the ‘Tongan Thor’ goes head to head with England’s Ellis Genge. Both are mighty carriers and influential figures for their teams. Taniela Tupou is an explosive runner despite his vast bulk while Genge is at his best making hard yards, consistently getting over the gainline. Tupou missed the first Test with a calf injury but intends making up for lost time after vowing to “smash” his opposite number.
The Suncorp factor
🖤💛❤️💚💙 We're on here! Your team against @EnglandRugby for the second Test.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) July 7, 2022
Brisbane is repeatedly referenced as the Wallabies’ “Spiritual home” and a glance at their record since England were the last team to defeat them there in 2016 explains why. Australia have rattled off 10 successive victories including three against South Africa, two against France, two against New Zealand and one against Ireland. It is a genuine fortress that puffs up the Wallabies’ chest before a punch is thrown, adding to the challenge facing England who suffered their heaviest defeat in Test history at the venue – a 76-0 mauling in 1998.