Jack Nowell: England beating Australia in decider would eclipse 2016 whitewash

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Jack Nowell believes toppling Australia in Saturday’s series decider would be a greater achievement than England’s whitewash of the Wallabies six years ago.

Sydney Cricket Ground will host a winner-takes-all clash on Saturday after Eddie Jones’ tourists produced some of their best rugby since the 2019 World Cup to clinch a 25-17 victory in the second Test.

The scene is set to emulate one of the standout achievements of Jones’ reign when the Wallabies were dismantled 3-0 in 2016 as part of a record-equalling 18-match winning run.

Nowell featured in all three of those victories and, while on the face of it a clean sweep would appear the greater prize, the Exeter wing sees more value in England’s resolve in the face of adversity.

“If I look back to last time we were out here, winning 3-0 was special,” Nowell said.

“But to come from 1-0 down – and hopefully the idea is to be 2-1 at the end of it – is hopefully something I will remember more.”

England had lost four successive matches until they crept over the line in Brisbane and Nowell added: “We have had some difficult situations.

“We let ourselves down and lost a few games and those results, when they back up, are hard to take. But they fired us up to go again.

“The thing we spoke about was that, if we lost the second Test, we lose the series. It was as simple as that and when you keep it that simple, it frees us up on the field.

“The first half we were dominant and then Australia came back. But where we are as a squad, we were able to handle that and fire through it, especially the forwards.

“We had a lot riding on the second Test and, if we had lost, the series was over. When that’s in the front of your minds going into a game, it’s all or nothing.”

England are about to enter all-or-nothing territory for the final time this season but their prospects have dimmed after Sam Underhill was ruled out of the Sydney showdown by concussion.

Underhill becomes the third England player and fifth including Wallabies Jordan Petaia and Allan Alaalatoa to have their series ended by a brain injury.

The Bath openside joins fellow ‘Kamikaze Kid’ Tom Curry and second row Maro Itoje in taking heavy blows to the head and now England’s stocks at flanker are sorely depleted.

Lewis Ludlam has proved to be a powerful reinforcement off the bench in the first two Tests and he is set to fill the number seven jersey in Sydney on Saturday with Jack Willis, who has overcome a rib injury, providing replacement cover.

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