Rugby Union

Who comes out on top in a combined XV between England and Australia?

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Ahead of Saturday's must-win game for the hosts of the Rugby World Cup, here is a combined XV between sporting arch-enemies England and Australia.

15. Israel Folau (AUS)

Mike Brown is in superb form but Folau is peerless amongst full-backs. Immaculate under the high ball, the former league player is also a hugely dangerous runner both from deep and coming into the line.

14. Anthony Watson (ENG)

Yet to sparkle in this tournament as many had predicted, but Watson is still a mercurial talent. Adam Ashley-Cooper remains a deadly finisher but Watson, with his excellent footwork, is more dangerous.


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13. Jonathan Joseph (ENG)

This was a very close call with Tevita Kuridrani. Both players are hugely important to their respective teams but, whilst Kuridrani provides physicality and the ability to get over the gain line consistently, Joseph, especially in George Ford’s absence, provides the magic for England.

12. Matt Giteau (AUS)

Little justification needed here. Giteau is one of the players of his generation, whilst if England lose on Saturday, Barritt, despite his work as a defensive organiser, would be fortunate to pull on the white shirt again.

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11. Drew Mitchell (AUS)

The Toulon winger is very experienced and has genuine speed and physicality to match it. Michael Cheika may well prefer Rob Horne due to his superior defence to combat Watson, but Mitchell is my pick.

Jonny May has been in scintillating form recently, however there is still an element of rashness to his game.

10. Owen Farrell (ENG)

Farrell was superb against Wales - he kicked flawlessly, making the decision to go for the corner all the more baffling, and worked tirelessly in defence.

Bernard Foley is favourite to be given the nod over Quade Cooper and whilst he is more skilled playing flat than Farrell, he lacks the Saracen stand-off’s composure off the tee and big match temperament.

9. Will Genia (AUS)

Should be selected over Nick Phipps and is a more consistent performer than Ben Youngs. Still hasn’t always lived up to his world-class potential but on his day makes the Wallabies’ game flow and is a very dangerous runner himself.

8. David Pocock (AUS)

Though not a conventional eight, Pocock is simply too good to leave out. Arguably the best in the jackal position in world rugby, the Brumbies’ flanker is an astute reader of the game and powerful ball carrier.

7. Michael Hooper (AUS)

A pretty straightforward selection over England captain Chris Robshaw. Though Robshaw arguably got the better of Hooper the last time they met, the Wallabies open-side is a far more dynamic and influential player.

Robshaw is under huge pressure this weekend and needs to start linking play more to offset his limitations as a carrier.

6. Tom Wood (ENG)

The clearing of Wood this week for an accidental collision with Liam Williams could be crucial on Saturday. The Northampton flanker has showcased his mobility in the loose recently and remains a reliable option in the line-out. Wood needs to get the better of Scott Fardy for England to prosper.

5. Joe Launchbury (ENG)

Still underrated by many, this could be the game that Launchbury reinforces his class. Very mobile for a second-row, the Wasp lock’s work at the breakdown will be essential in England’s attempts to negate Pocock and Hooper.

4. Kane Douglas (AUS)

A very good ball carrier, Douglas also possesses good hands to link play in the loose. A key figure in Australian’s line-out and has usurped former captain James Horwill as the key man in the engine room.

3. Dan Cole (ENG)

Cole stemmed an alarming flow of poor recent performances last Saturday, with a commanding display in which he dominated Gethin Jenkins. Sekope Kepu has improved in recent times into a reliable tight-head, but whilst his work in the loose is valuable he will still be targeted in the scrum.

2. Stephen Moore (AUS)

The Wallabies captain is a very wily operator and incredibly experienced. Tom Young’s work in the set-piece was arguably England’s biggest positive to take from the Wales game, but Moore is still a more reliable option and in his third World Cup.

1. Joe Marler (ENG)

This was a much closer call than normal with Australian props. Scott Sio has emerged as a serious loose-head in the last two years and potentially alleviated a huge flaw in Australia’s game. Marler still gets the nod for his greater experience and performance against the Wallabies last November.

Result: England 7 - 8 Australia

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Rugby Union
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