Rugby Union

Australia vs England; head-to-head player comparison

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Outspoken English Fly Half has made the bold claim that no Australian players would make the starting England team. As he himself is very unlucky to miss out on at least a squad position, this shows remarkable faith in the incumbent side. 

Considering the monumental battles that will take between the two sides, lets examine the hypothetical selection issues of picking a combined dream team of the two starting sides on Saturday.

1. Joe Marler V Scott Sio

Scott Sio has the task of establishing Australia as a scrummaging threat, and in recent times he has done so. With considerable weight behind him he looks to be one of the best looseheads to wear the green in some time.


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On the other hand, Joe Marler has been struggling for form. Given England's history of strength in this area, you have to think that Marler's pedigree and class will eventually show through. Taking into consideration his tackle count also, this one goes to this Englishman. 

2. Tom Youngs Vs Stephen Moore

This has been another area of unlikely difficulties for the English. The set piece, in general, has crumbled since the Six Nations and with Dylan Hartley's exclusion, the experience of Tom Youngs has been enough to see off youthful prospects in the squad.

Stephen Moore however dominates this matchup in terms of experience. He also adds his strong leadership into the mix and excellent work around the park both carrying and offloading. The Aussie gets the nod.

3. Dan Cole Vs Sekope Kepu

Based on current form Kepu has been in a scrum that goes forward, Dan Cole has not. Kepu has an athletic dynamism that Cole never will, but the Leicester man's breakdown work is vital to an English side void of true Opensides. Nine times out of ten Cole would be the man to go with, but if the team was picked this week, it's a two-thirds Australian front row. 

4. Joe Launchbury Vs Kane Douglas

Second row is a position of particular strength for England. Even with the injury to Lawes there is strength in depth that reaches beyond the wider squad. Injury has affected selection on both sides, however, as the massive Will Skelton is not up for debate. This would be a tougher decision with his unique qualities, but Launchbury would be in many people's World XV. 

5. Geoff Parling Vs Rob Simmons

Australia do not have a weakness in this area, but England have class at every turn. A strong leader in the group, a British Lion, and a lineout master, Parling gets the nod to complete an all-English Lock combination despite Simmons fantastic work rate.

6. Tom Wood Vs Scott Fardy

Neither of these guys are reluctant to do the hard graft around the pitch, and both are big game performers. Fardy has forced his way into a hugely competitive back row with his consistently dogged physicality. Wood has been short of his world-beating form for much of this year, but on top end potential, class, and leadership the Englishman squeaks the victory.

7. Chris Robshaw Vs Michael Hooper

This match up will be the most vital on Saturday. The breakdown battle will dictate the rest of the game and despite the faith from the coaches, there is only one winner here. Hooper has been arguably the best Openside in World Rugby for the last couple of years. His work rate, tackle count, strength over the ball, carrying ability, and overall athleticism puts him on a another level. He can win matches on his own. Enough said.

8. Ben Morgan Vs David Pocock

This is an interesting heads up battle, because one player is out of position. Everything applied to Hooper can be said of Pocock, hence his inclusion in the side out of position. Eight is not an area of huge advantage for Australia, but as in many cases for England, good players have gone missing. If Morgan is at his rampaging best, he is a menace and can compete with the best in the world.

This selection depends on the balance of the back row. England are missing out on ball poachers, but Australia lack a heavy gain line option. Pocock may be the better rugby player, but Morgan's skills win him the shirt.

9. Ben Youngs Vs Will Genia

In 2010, this was a mouthwatering prospect as two of the best scrum halfs in world rugby sought to one-up the other. That's not quite the case in 2015. Both players have been inconsistent, and both squads have been indecisive in making a long term choice. There are other players from both nations that deserve the shirt over these two, but given recent game time; it's Youngs by a nose.

10. Owen Farrell Vs Bernard Foley

There is enough debate in this position without throwing in hypothetical Australian options into the mix. Farrell was outstanding in the defeat against Wales, but still his temperament couldn't be kept from boiling over on occasion.

Foley, on the other hand, has become a complete Fly Half. He may not receive the plaudits of a Carter, or a Sexton, but he does everything well on a regular basis. For that reason, in this battle it's the Waratah.

11. Jonny May Vs Rob Horne

Rob Horne does everything a good winger should do. He is fast, elusive, physical, and knows his way to the try line. Keeping players like Tomane and Speight out of a side is no mean feat. But Jonny May has pace from another world that makes him a unique proposition in attack. He has also packed on visible muscle mass and is growing into his role as an all-round winger. May all the way.

12. Brad Barritt Vs Matt Giteau

This is one of the easiest selections, and main area that people will cite when questioning Cipriani's absence. On one side, you have a world-class playmaker, who has enormous experience and prodigious skill. On the other you have a fairly one-dimensional defensive rock, whose last outing saw his cost England a try late on due to poor defence.

There will be many Englishman questioning his inclusion as it, but if Giteau were an option there wouldn't be a conversation. 

13. Jonathan Joseph Vs Tevita Kuridrani

This is a major clash of styles, and a case of horses for courses. Joseph has been England's main attacking threat in 2015, causing havoc with his pace and footwork, and drawing comparisons with the great Jeremy Guscott. He rarely makes mistakes as well, which is a huge plus point for international selection.

Kuridrani, however, has secured his place in a devastating backline with huge performances against the best teams in the world, and his terrific strength on the gain line. Though it pains me having played against him myself and knowing the threat he can be, Joseph misses out due to the need for a crash ball option in the backline. 

14. Anthony Watson Vs Adam Ashley-Cooper

The reason Ashley-Cooper is on the wing is because he has to be somewhere. He is an all round rugby talent, and will find ways of changing a game. Watson has improved significantly this last year and is holding many excellent wingers at bay. He may have more pace and footwork, which makes this a tough call, but Ashley-Cooper has a rare X-Factor that you wouldn't want on the bench in a big game. 

15. Mike Brown Vs Israel Folau

Take your pick. Toss a coin, you won't be losing out. Possibly the best two full-backs in the world despite major competition from a number of nations, both are sublime under the high ball and in the counter. Both are hugely strong, always beat the first man, and are frequently dragging their teams forward by the phenomenal standard they set.

I don't want to cop out, so I'm going with Folau due to his presence, his superior passing game, and because it's Israel Folau. Do I need another reason?

That's eight Aussies and seven English. I didn't plan that, honestly. Clearly this is going to be a tight match on Saturday and the only way to find out who really deserves to make this list will be to sit  and watch. 

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