The logic is sound enough. The England coach wants his team tested to its limits. But this Australia side carries with it the whiff of danger. Be careful what you wish for.
They have the size to stop England doing a demolition job on them and, as Argentina showed last week, when England lack forward momentum they look half the side. And they also have the elemental magic of Kurtley Beale.
England have beaten Australia in six of their last seven meetings but this Wallaby edition carries a closer resemblance to the team that beat them on the way to the 2015 World Cup final than any other of recent vintage.
“This lot are a dangerous side. They’ve just beaten the All Blacks, they’ve just beaten Wales at the Principality Stadium which is no mean feat, they’re pretty confident and they are playing well.
We have to up our game in all facets from last weekend and start with great intensity,” said England flanker Chris Robshaw.
“Two years ago in that game we conceded far too many tries. They showed how quickly they can score. Last week against Wales they scored four tries, all from turnovers. That’s how dangerous they can be. We can’t switch off for a split second.”
There is also the fatigue factor to throw in. Not for Australia, although they are nearing the end of a long southern hemisphere season, but England.
Jones’s obsession with the 2019 World Cup has turned this autumn campaign into a conditioning camp as much as a rugby series. The midweek training session England were involved in ahead of this game was as punishing as any the players can remember and, in a break from their usual routine, they also did another fast session just 24 hours before the game.
“We did it in the summer in Argentina too,” said Robshaw. “That’s the good thing about this management – they are always looking for small improvements and they don’t normally do something without a reason. What that reason is we’re not always sure because it is bloody hard at times, but they’re always looking to get those marginal gains.
“Eddie has been to cycling and to various football clubs to see what they do. The big goal is that World Cup and to be in the best possible shape for that.”
Jones is unrepentant over his investment in the long term which sees the rested Maro Itoje return today but only as a replacement.
“By 2018 at some stage we’ll have all our players back and we’ll have them fit and then you’ll see the team roar,” said Jones.
“Until that stage we’re like that old Vauxhall Viva that used to stall all the time. You’ve got to get out and get someone to help you push it – that’s where we’re at.”
The England coach was being deliberately over the top in his comparison after taking umbrage at some of the criticism of his side’s performance last weekend.
Jones’s view was that although England did not hit any particular heights in the 21-8 win over Argentina it was still a worthy victory in what was their first game back together.
“If you read the papers it’s like we’ve gone into reverse after one 80-minute performance, so I’m trying to get the team out of reverse. If I can get them going forward even in first gear we’ll be doing well so we’re looking to be in first gear against Australia,” he said.
“I must admit I really struggle with the sort of commentary that I’m hearing about the team. We’ve had 21 games and won 20 of them. We’ve had one game that people have called flat and now the whole team has stalled. Give me a break guys.”
Jones has a point, but when all the talk from within the England camp is on pulling away from their rivals and hunting down New Zealand the performances need to square with the rhetoric.
Owen Farrell’s return today should help – even if David Campese dismisses the world player of the year nominee as “just a rugby league player” – and if they win at Twickenham today all well and good. If they lose though, Australia will push England down to No3 in the world rankings and the chariot will be in reverse.
Source : EXPRESS