Although Eddie Jones’ side will not rest on their laurels with a first Test victory, an opportunity to experiment wisely with the starting XV arises.
A win would secure a historic series win for the men in white, but a loss would not be catastrophic, with a third test and series decider remaining.
Jones said himself that there were a number of players that were very unfortunate not to start and even to get in the match day 23, such is the strength in depth that this England squad possesses. This second test could be a great chance to give deserving players a crack at international rugby, without weakening the side.
This said, my starting pack would stay exactly the same; such is the performances each player displayed as they outclassed their Australian counterparts.
Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole dismantled the Australian front row, with Maro Itoje again performing like a man wise beyond his years. James Haskell was titanic, Chris Robshaw was perfect in his role and Billy Vunipola is becoming one of the best number 8s in world rugby.
The changes come in the backs.
The brilliant performance of George Ford would see him return to the starting team at fly-half to resume his partnership with Owen Farrell, who switches to inside centre. After the match, Clive Woodward said that the game has evolved in such a way that a successful international team must have a second fly-half to add a second option of distribution to the back line.
This was demonstrated when Ford was brought on for Burrell after half an hour. As well as this, Ford also deserves his chance to put a horrid season behind him once and for all.
The two other changes in my back line include Jack Nowell for Marland Yarde, and Alex Goode for Mike Brown.
Yarde did not play poorly, but was included because Jones thought that Nowell was not quite 100% ready for test match rugby following the Premiership final. Nowell, however, will be ready for the second test, and deserves a chance after a brilliant season for England and the Exeter Chiefs in their march to the Premiership final.
His all round game is more accomplished than Yarde’s, and is a more suitable option to start the game, with Yarde’s explosive attributes being brought off of the bench to attack a tired Wallaby defence. Alex Goode is the Premiership player of the year, while Mike Brown again did not enjoy his best game in the first test, with some poor basic errors overshadowing an otherwise solid game.
Goode, like Nowell, deserves his chance. For critics saying he is a good club player but won’t cut it at international rugby, unless given the right chance, how can he prove otherwise?
This decision would not be dropping Mike Brown, it would merely be giving a quality and deserving player the chance he deserves. This would also give another ball playing option in the back line, meaning Farrell could stay at fly half if necessary.
On the bench, I would include Jamie George over Luke Cowan-Dickie, as he has been the form hooker in England for the last year, if not the past couple of years. His basic skills for a hooker are outstanding and will add a different quality to Hartley, without losing the solidness in the set piece.
Jack Clifford would be included as the back row replacement over Courtney Lawes after a terrific breakthrough season with Harlequins.
He is a very strong ball carrier with electric pace, demonstrated in his fifty-metre sprint to the line against Wales. If the match gets tough, which it certainly will, he would be an exciting option from the bench.
The other change on the bench would be the inclusion of former Leinster and Rugby League man, Ben Te’o. England fans may be skeptic of former League players after the failure of Sam Burgess, and other before him such as Lesley Vainikolo. However, Ben Te’o has learned his trade at Leinster for two years, and is experienced in the 15-man game.
He also picked up the Leinster player of the year award, following a barnstorming last season for them before he packed his bags for Sixways. With three distributors in the back line, he would again provide a different option from the bench to cause the tiring Australian side problems with his strong running.
The players excluded from the line up would not be dropped, as they are too good as rugby players. This is merely a perfect time to try out some other options, and if they do not work out as hoped, there is always the third test to discover the perfect starting team to bring home a historic series win.
My England XV:
1 Mako Vunipola
2 Dylan Hartley
3 Dan Cole
4 Maro Itoje
5 George Kruis
6 Chris Robshaw
7 James Haskell
8 Billy Vunipola
9 Ben Youngs
10 George Ford
11 Jack Nowell
12 Owen Farrell
13 Jonathan Joseph
14 Anthony Watson
15 Alex Goode
16 Jamie George
17 Matt Mullan
18 Paul Hill
19 Joe Launchbury
20 Jack Clifford
21 Danny Care
22 Ben Te’o
23 Marland Yarde