Even though England have already wrapped up a series win with Saturday’s impressive 23 – 7 second test victory, Eddie Jones will have some serious thinking to do about his team for the final test in Sydney. We take a look at some of the options the England head coach could go for.
Eddie Jones has already stated his team are determined to whitewash Australia 3 – 0 (via the BBC):
“The boys started talking about it on the field and we’re committed to doing that. We want to be the best team in the world. If the All Blacks were in this situation now, what would they be thinking? They’d be thinking 3-0. If we want to be the best team in the world, we have to think 3-0.”
With this in mind, Jones will have to decide whether he sticks with the team that started the second test for consistency or experiment in a few positions to test out his depth, give some other players a chance to prove themselves and lastly provide his exhausted players a welcome break after a gruelling season.
If Jones sticks with the same side, it may offer him the most likely chance of victory. England’s pack was ferocious and dominant at scrum time, although it did not quite have the same impact at the lineout this time around with Australia competing well.
Both Haskell and Robshaw have been revelations since Jones took over the England set-up, but both most be incredibly tired after jam-packed seasons.
George Ford and Owen Farrell combined well once again, controlling the game effectively when England actually had the ball and making sure the Australians were pinned back into the corners when necessary. It seems right now that they are head-and-shoulders above the other options as a 10/12 axis.
There are an awful lot of players on this tour that are itching to be given a chance to start. When you think about the likes of Paul Hill, Jamie George, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury, Jack Clifford, Elliot Daly and Alex Goode, all have been on and off the England bench for a prolonged period now. Giving them a chance to shine against the Australians might just provide England with extra impetus to win the final test knowing the series is already in the bag.
In particular, many fans are calling for Alex Goode to be given his chance after having such a splendid season for Saracens.
The Dirt Trackers
Additionally, there are a number of players who have been holding tackle bags througout the tour. Teimana Harrison, who was so impressive in his debut against Wales back in May, could do particularly well against the Wallabies.
Moreover, young props like Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge would relish the chance to come off the bench and get their teeth into an Australian scrum that is really struggling right now. Would the English tyros really find it such a challenge facing the likes of James Slipper or Scott Sio, Greg Holmes or Sekoke Kepu? It’d be interesting to see how they would get on.
Henry Slade is another who has so much talent and potential but has yet to be handed his chance for England under Eddie Jones. Maybe he will finally be given his shot next week?
A Potential 23 For Next Weekend
So taking all this into account, here is the 23 this writer would select for next week:
Matt Mullan, Dylan Hartley (c), Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Teimana Harrison, Jack Clifford, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, Owen Farrell, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph, Marland Yarde, Mike Brown
Bench: Jamie George, Ellis Genge, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, Chris Robshaw, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Elliot Daly
Update: Both Haskell and Nowell have been ruled out of the final test.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena