Eddie Jones aims to inflict a record sixth successive loss on his own country
England vs. Australia
- When: Saturday 24 November
- Where: Twickenham, London
- Start time: 3pm
- TV channel: live on Sky Sports
It’s three years and five matches since England last lost to Australia and the hosts are favourites to make it six of the best tomorrow when the old rivals clash at Twickenham Stadium.
It was there in a 2015 Rugby World Cup pool game that the Wallabies last recorded a win against the English, a victory that set them on their way to the final where they lost to New Zealand.
Since then, however, Australia have declined dramatically, starting with a home series whitewash to England in June 2016 and this year culminating in a wretched slump of form that included losing a home series to Ireland, a first defeat at home to Argentina and a 9-6 reverse against Wales a fortnight ago, the first time they’ve lost to the Welsh since 2008.
When England hosted Australia 12 months ago they thrashed the tourists 30-6, their biggest winning margin in history, and with only four wins from their last 14 Tests Wallabies coach Michael Cheika knows his job is on the line.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle gave Cheika a vote of confidence this week, but has admitted there is “universal frustration” at recent results.
Ringing the changes
Australia have made a number of changes to the side that laboured to an unconvincing 26-7 win against Italy in Rome last Saturday. No.8 David Pocock was orignally named in the starting XV but he is now ruled out with a neck injury, Sky Sports reports. Pete Samu or Kurtley Beale could play but the change has not been confirmed.
Israel Folau and Bernard Foley have also passed fitness tests after succumbing to a midweek bug. Meanwhile, Leicester’s Matt Toomua starts at fly-half with scrum-half Will Genia set to win his 100th cap.
England also failed to impress last weekend, requiring a stirring second-half performance to overcome the inventive Japanese, and as expected head coach Eddie Jones makes nine changes to his starting XV.
Owen Farrell replaces George Ford at fly-half and Ben Te’o and Henry Slade are reunited in the centre. In the back-row Mark Wilson is the only starter from the Japan game with Sam Underhill and Brad Shields back in harness on the flanks.
The big news is the decision to start with Jamie George at hooker, relegating co-captain Dylan Hartley to the bench, where he will be joined by centre Manu Tuilagi, who was last seen in an England shirt as a second-half replacement against Wales in the 2016 Six Nations.
Injury to Jack Nowell means the exciting Bath 21-year-old Joe Cokanasiga, who scored on his debut last week, starts on the wing.
Asked why he had chosen George over Hartley, Jones told Sky Sports: “Australia tend to come out in the first 20 minutes of the game like a bull at a gate. They’ll have a lot of energy, a lot of ball movement and we feel Jamie will be better in that part of the game.
“In the last part of the game we feel it’ll be more of an arm wrestle, more of a ‘slogathon’ and that’s where Dylan’s suited.”
The history boys
As for the decision to include Tuilagi on the bench, despite concerns about a lingering groin problem, Jones said: “He trained [on Wednesday] and came through it really well. It is a good opportunity for him and the team. Manu can’t wait to get out there. We’re really pleased how he’s stuck at it. We feel this week he’s ready to go.”
Jones was speaking 15 years to the day since he led Australia out in the final of the 2003 World Cup against England. His boys lost that day and that victory was a then record fifth consecutive win for the English against the Wallabies.
This generation has equalled that mark and it would some irony if Jones helps inflict on his own country a record-breaking sixth successive humiliation.
Starting teams and replacements
- Starting XI: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Ben Moon, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 6 Brad Shields, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Mark Wilson
- Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Wilson, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 George Ford, 23 Manu Tuilagi
- Starting XI: 15. Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Jack Maddocks, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Will Genia; 1 Scott Sio, 2 Tolu Latu, 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 Izack Rodda, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 8 TBC
- Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Sefa Naivalu
How to watch England vs. Australia on TV
The Twickenham Test match starts at 3pm on Saturday and is live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event.
Autumn international fixtures and TV guide
Saturday 24 November fixtures
- 2pm: Italy vs. New Zealand (Stadio Olimpico, Rome; live on Premier Sports)
- 2.30pm: Scotland vs. Argentina (Murrayfield, Edinburgh; live on BBC One)
- 3pm: England vs. Australia (Twickenham, London; live on Sky Sports Action)
- 5.20pm: Wales vs. South Africa (Principality Stadium, Cardiff; live on BBC Two)
- 6.30pm: Ireland vs. USA (Aviva Stadium, Dublin; live on Channel 4)
- 7.45pm: France vs. Fiji (Stade de France, Paris; live on Premier Sports)
Saturday 1 December fixture
- 2.30pm: Barbarians vs. Argentina (Twickenham, London; live on BBC Two)