Australia vs England: Rugby World Cup Quarter Final The latest chapter in one of rugby’s great rivalries will be written on Saturday when England take on Australia.At stake is a place in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals, with England head coach Eddie Jones aiming to get one over on his homeland and former Randwick teammate Michael Cheika.
In fact, so long as Henry Slade was fit to replace him in the centres, I think it was inevitable.I feel for George Ford, who has started every match of this World Cup at 10, because he has played really well in Japan – but maybe his previous form in the big matches has counted against him.
In the handful of huge pressure games at international level in his career he has maybe slightly wobbled.It might be a bit harsh on him because he is further down the line and more confident now. But certainly in the past when he has played in knock-out games with big decisions, I would not have necessarily said he would be my first pick.
There was some surprise when England unveiled a team which saw in-form fly-half George Ford dropped to the bench and Owen Farrell moved back to fly-half from inside centre for this quarter-final clash.
It signals Jones’ desire to beef up the midfield to contain rampaging centre Samu Kerevi, not to mention restrict Australia’s ability to use the strike threat of wingers Reece Hodge and Marika Koroibete, and fullback Kurtley Beale.
Henry Slade comes in to partner Manu Tulagi in the centres, adding some extra go-forward with the ball in hand as well, following skipper Farrell’s shift into the halves and head coach Jones believes it is the perfect way to counter what England will be facing.
“Australia defend a certain way and we believe that those three players (Farrell, Tuilagi and Slade) can trouble their defence,” Jones said.Then, defensively, we feel like it’s a pretty strong 10-12-13 combination and we know that Australia is a high possession team, high phase team.That’s how they want to pay, that’s how their fans want them to play so there’s going to be a lot of defending in that area and we believe that those three guys are well equipped to handle it.”
Although the defensive side of his game is considered by some to be a weaknesses, it is worth noting Ford has a 100 per cent tackle success rate from the 11 he attempted during the pool stage and Jones insists he still has a part to play against Australia.I spoke to him and obviously he’s disappointed, but he knows his role in the team,” Jones said. “We’ve left a lot of good players, eight players, out of the squad of 31 and they’re all disappointed but he’s got a significant role for us to play.”
Pocock and Hooper will be well aware that their reputation is up for grabs and this game is going to get all their focus and then some.
In all of these quarter-finals you are going to get every last ounce of effort and experience – everything is going to be thrown out there. Nothing will be left to chance.
When you have built up to it for four years, nothing else matters. There are no warm-up games, there is no qualification from the pool. This is it. This is why they sacrificed themselves, why they have been playing for as long as they have and what they dreamt of from when they were at school.
You have got Pocock and Hooper who have been around the block, played some big games, but never won a World Cup. It will be their last chance.
Then you have got the young pretenders coming through who were probably inspired by Pocock and Hooper and now want to take their mantle.