Rugby Union

Five changes England may want to consider ahead of second Australia Test

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After what was by far the standout victory under the Eddie Jones era, there were still many things that needed improvement. While the England camp continue to stress that rugby is a 23-man game, ultimately the starting 15 has the greatest impact on the game and therefore should be picked for full effectiveness and purpose.

On Saturday, England's bench made a far bigger impact on the game and some may argue that had these players been on from the start, victory would have been even easier for the England team.

1) George Ford for Luther Burrell

This seems an obvious choice as Eddie Jones had to withdraw Burrell midway through the first half.


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Immediately things changed for England and Jonathan Joseph's try came to give the away side a solid platform to build from. From that moment they were always in control and Ford assisted beautifully for Marland Yarde and Jack Nowell's tries.

Unfortunately, Burrell looked off the pace, couldn't adapt to the high tempo of international test match rugby and wasn't able to make an impact carrying over the gain line as Jones wanted him to do.

Credit must, therefore, be given to Ford as his confidence would have been at an all-time low after being dropped and for him to have that calmness and composure throughout the game showed everyone just what a talent he is.

It is, almost ironic as Bernard Foley almost look lost in the absence of Matt Giteau and another playmaker to assist him. It was the combination of Farrell and Ford which won England the midfield battle and that is what they should go for in Melbourne.

2) Chris Robshaw for Joe Launchbury

While many acknowledge Robshaw's performance was of a good standard, this England team should be striving for excellence, and while his work rate was very commendable, what Launchbury offers the team far outweighs the former captain's credentials.

Launchbury's first full 80 minutes under Jones since his first game in charge was against Wales; where he produced a quite outstanding man of the match performance and looked to have done all he could to push for a starting place.

Therefore, it seems bizarre that after delivering a man of the match performance in his first full game for a long time that he doesn't start the first test. He matches Robshaw's work rate, provides a greater option at the lineout, and also possesses a greater physical threat and presence.

Furthermore, his ball carrying skills gives England more strength in this area and would simply pose a bigger threat to the Australians. Let's not forget his man of the match performance against the same opponents at the World Cup.

While this would mean Launchbury would move to second row and Itoje to blindside flanker the latter's wide skillset mean would still have the same impact on the game and wouldn't affect his overall performance.

3) Jack Nowell for Marland Yarde

The decision to emit Nowell for Yarde startled us all; Many saw Nowell as the in-form winger in the Premiership and looked a guaranteed starter for the first test as he had done very well for England in the Six Nations and backed this up by producing some sterling form in the Premiership for Exeter.

Now while Yarde isn't a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, some even questioned his place on the tour ahead of free-scoring Chris Ashton. Despite scoring a try on Saturday, his impact was very limited and in a test match where the two teams are so evenly matched you want each and every one of your players to make the biggest impact possible.

That's where Nowell comes in, Yarde may have that slight edge on pace but his rival winger's defensive game is far superior and there is not much separating their attacking prowess. Frankly Nowell made as much impact in the last 10 minutes as Yarde did the whole game, which is why England should revert to the winger who served them so well in the Six Nations.

4) Danny Care for Ben Youngs

This change would be purely tactical and would not be criticising Ben Youngs' performance but is simply in the best interests of the team.

Eddie Jones has hinted he wants his side to play at a quicker tempo in the second Test and Danny Care would do that perfectly.

Currently, there isn't much to separate him and Youngs, it all depends on the type of game they want to play. We saw it come off perfectly in the Grand Slam-winning match against France, where Care spotted a gap and darted through to go over for an excellent individual try.

So it wouldn't be surprising if Jones went for Care in order to increase the tempo and take the game to the Australians.

5) Alex Goode for Mike Brown

Perhaps the least likely change to be made, however, when you look it at on paper it seems the most obvious. Straight after Brown dropped that simple high ball under no pressure commentator Stuart Barnes immediately remarked: "Errors like those cost you and Alex Goode would offer more in this team."

This perfectly sums up this debate as one of Brown's renowned strengths is under the high ball. Yet on Saturday not only did he drop one under no pressure but didn't even bother to contest against the Herculean Israel Folau.

Jones clearly has a lot of faith in Brown after starting him in every game since he took charge, however you don't get named the Premiership Player of the Year for nothing, and it certainly questions the value of the domestic league if the Player of the Year isn't even getting selected for England.

Goode has a wider range of skills that are simply not in Brown's current arsenal. His footwork, kicking game and vision all outweigh his rival - key attributes for a world-class full-back to have.

Brown has not delivered a standout performance under the Jones reign and Goode hasn't been given the chance he deserves. If he is given that chance, England will become a much bigger threat on the counter-attack and could lead them to a series victory.

While some of these changes are doubtful, by implementing them, England will have a greater presence about them and will simply be harder to beat as their class and X-factor will increase around the pitch.

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Jonny Wilkinson
Owen Farrell
England Rugby
Rugby Union
Australia Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup
Manu Tuilagi

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