England coach Eddie Jones says the Wallabies know they have a “potential set piece issue” and has picked a team he believes can once again disrupt their unstructured play and secure the Cook Cup.
Jones made two changes to his side for Saturday’s second Test against the Wallabies, handing starts to five-eighth George Ford and winger Jack Nowell, while also changing his bench to create a 6-2 split of forwards and backs.
Owen Farrell shifts to No.12 to accommodate Ford while Nowell replaces Marland Yarde, who drops out of the English squad altogether.
The tourists are unlikely to stray far from the `Bodyline’ tactics that sealed them victory in the Brisbane Test last weekend, but Jones said they have improved their defensive and breakdown work during the week to give them the best possible chance of a historic series win in Australia.
“They’re a good unstructured team, we know that,” Jones said on Thursday night.
“They’ve picked a team that reflects that. That’s how they want to play. They want to play the ball wide, they want to keep the ball away from set piece (because) they know they’ve got a potential issue in that area.
“We’ve just got to defend better and we will.
“We feel like we’ve rectified some of the issues we had in defence and we’ll defend better than we did last week.”
England’s forward pack, which set the platform for their 39-28 triumph at Suncorp Stadium, is unchanged – in stark contrast to the Wallabies, who have replaced both their props and also have new faces in the second row and at No.8.
Asked if Australia’s changes were a concession of England’s scrum dominance, Jones deadpanned: “I’m not really concerned about Australia to be honest, we’re just concentrating on ourselves.”
Jones said former NRL star Ben Te’o was “coming along nicely” and edging closer to a Test debut, but has opted for the Ford-Farrell playmaking axis that worked so well in the series opener.
“(Te’o) has had a much better week than the first week and he’s certainly getting into the swing of things,” he said.
“But at this stage Owen and George are our best combination.”
England: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (c), Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Jamie George, Matt Mullan, Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Elliot Daly.