- England endured a torrid World Cup that saw them eliminated in the group stages thanks to an emphatic 33-13 defeat to Australia at Twickenham. However, the men in white have since rallied under the tutelage of Eddie Jones and are currently on their longest unbeaten run in well over a decade, maintaining a 100 percent win rate for the calendar year.
- Australia had a mixed 2015 as they recorded their first Rugby Championship title before sweeping all before them at the World Cup, including tournament hosts England. However, the Wallabies came unstuck in the final, losing out to neighbours New Zealand at Twickenham as the All-Blacks comfortably pummeled their Australasian counterparts to lift the Webb-Ellis Cup. That game remains Australia’s last competitive fixture, so there will be great interest in seeing if the team is still haunted by that crushing blow.
Eddie Jones has presided over a 100 percent win rate with his current employers thus far and it is unlikely that the former Australia boss is going to want to let that go without a fight. Meanwhile, England prop Dan Cole recently told the BBC that a first series win in Australia would be “as good as winning the Grand Slam”, a sentiment that a number of England fans will share. The 29-year old Leicester Tigers man also believes that the first Test in Brisbane this Saturday is a must win if England are to unsettle their rivals and clinch the series.
After mixed results in the past two years, the Wallabies seemed to be back to their all-conquering best when they outplayed England last year, but that defeat to the All-Blacks in the final may have proved a setback. Head coach Michael Cheika has said that his side will not flinch when faced with the “Bodyline” campaign being promised by Eddie Jones and is looking forward to going toe-to-toe with his former Randwick team-mate.
Squad selection could prove to be the vital difference in the first Test, with England opting to select a physical XV. This means that there is no place in the starting line-up for the under pressure George Ford, with Owen Farrell instead being given the nod for the number ten role. Meanwhile, Australia may hand debuts to a number of uncapped players as they look to bulk up their line-up, including the towering figure of 6ft 10” Brumbies lock Rory Arnold, known in the squad as ‘Three Storey Rory’.
The best bet for punters may be one of the points markets, with odds of 11/10 on England being the first side to reach ten points in the first Test, while Australia are at 4/5. Another possible route for bettors would be the half time/full time market, with an Australia/England wager coming in at odds of 8/1, while an England second-half domination (Draw/England) looks to provide an even better return at 33/1 if it comes through. Either way, fans should expect a tightly-fought three game series that could be decided as early as the first Test.
- Sports.net’s top tip: England to Win the Series 2-1 5/2