England five-eighth George Ford says Australia’s first Test centres combination was “really dangerous” but the visitors are ready for whatever comes from Michael Cheika when he names his team on Wednesday.
The Wallabies have brought forward by a day their team announcement for Saturday’s second Test at AAMI Park, with injuries to star back-rower David Pocock and lock Rob Simmons meaning the make-up of the starting XV is very much up in the air.
One of the big questions Cheika faces is whether to keep powerful rookie Samu Kerevi at inside centre or install a second ball player such as Christian Lealiifano.
With Ford anticipated to start at five-eighth, across from Owen Farrell at No.12, it’s possible the Wallabies could retain Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani through the centres and run traffic through England’s smaller-bodied playmaking axis.
“I thought they actually looked really dangerous, the Australian centres, when they got good ball in hand. We’re not sure what they’ll do this week,” Ford told reporters on Wednesday.
“You saw last Saturday. Even though they had two centres who potentially carry the ball a bit more, they still used the width very well with (Israel) Folau and (Bernard) Foley distributing that well.
“Nothing changes. We’ve just got to prepare as well as we can, get our own house in order and hopefully we can improve ourselves.”
Ford said he expected a desperate performance from the Wallabies, who must win in Melbourne to keep the Cook Cup series alive.
“They’re probably disappointed with the first result and they played some really good stuff, especially the first 20 minutes,” he said.
“I think they’ll be aiming to do that for the full 80.
“They’ll bring a physical game as always, and they’ll want to get one back up on us so we’re desperate as well.”