Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore has challenged his forward pack to “reset the bar” of dominance over England in Saturday night’s rugby Test series opener.
Australia’s scrum crushed England at Twickenham in a comprehensive pool stage win at last year’s World Cup en route to the final, but Moore says they can’t rest on their laurels ahead of what will be an aggressive and fiery first Test at Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s a long time ago now. A lot has happened since then. We haven’t played as a front row yet this year so this is our first opportunity to go out there and show what it means to us,” Moore told reporters on Friday.
“First scrum’s always important in every game. Tomorrow will be no different.”
The only change to Australia’s front-row since the World Cup is Greg Holmes in at tighthead prop for Sekope Kepu, who has been named on the bench, while 208cm rookie Rory Arnold will provide an extra pang of aggression from lock.
England have selected the same pack that helped them secure a Six Nations grand slam earlier in the year, and have spoken repeatedly in the lead-up to the series about the importance of matching the Wallabies in the physicality stakes.
“Test rugby is physical, probably more physical than Super Rugby. We want to make sure that part of our game is special,” Moore said.
Along with the uncapped Arnold, centre Samu Kerevi and winger Dane Haylett-Petty will also make starting debuts, while Nick Frisby could also make his first appearance in the gold jersey off the bench.
Moore said he was excited to see what the new faces would contribute.
“We did a lot of work on that part of our game last year to get to a point but ultimately we didn’t get to where we wanted to in terms of winning the World Cup, but this is a new opportunity for this group,” he said.
“It’s very much the 2016 team.
“Different guys will take what they want out of what the team last year did but we’ve got four debutants and it’s their first opportunity to show what playing for the Wallabies means to them and what their identity is.”