Eddie Jones believes England’s line-out strength might have influenced Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s selection of 208cm debutant Rory Arnold, comparing the Brumbies lock to a young Steve Cutler.
In Jones’ cheeky attempt at predicting the Australian side earlier in the week, he suggested Cheika wouldn’t have the nerve to throw a rookie second-rower straight into the Test arena and would start veteran James Horwill instead.
“He didn’t take my advice, I’m disappointed,” a grinning Jones said.
“They’ve picked the new version of Skylad. He’s a tall boy.
“We’ve got a very good lineout and I’m sure maybe the Wallabies selection has taken note of that.”
Jones has left former Queensland State of Origin representative Ben Te’o out of his side for Saturday’s series opener because he missed a key organisational training session earlier in the week due to muscle soreness.
Instead Jones has opted to retain Luther Burrell at inside centre to partner Jonathan Joseph, while Owen Farrell has been named at five-eighth, and Marland Yarde will start on the wing after an impressive display against Wales in England’s final match before departing for Australia.
Jones said his decision to opt for Farrell as flyhalf instead of George Ford was because of the way he wanted to approach the Brisbane Test, where the English side have never won before.
“The first Test is always a bit different. Both teams are probably a little bit away from their best in terms of Test rugby,” he said.
“It’s going to be a physical game, we’ve just picked a backline we think was going to cope with that for the first 50 or 60 minutes.”
The Red Rose has kept the same pack that sealed the 2016 Six Nations championship, with Maro Itoje remaining at lock despite speculation he was to shift to No.6.
England captain Dylan Hartley said he was expecting an intense scrum battle.
“We saw the improvements and the impact (the Wallaby scrum) had at the World Cup. It’s something we pride ourselves on so we want to come here having a strong dominant set piece,” he said.
Jones’ has selected Chris Robshaw, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola as his back-row combination, underlining the challenge they faced against their world-class Australian counterparts.
“(David) Pocock’s an exceptional player, he’s always going to be a threat. If he was playing on Mars he’d be a threat,” Jones said.
“We know we’ve got to cope with him but it’s part of the game and we’ll deal with him.
England team: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell, Marland Yarde, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (capt), Mako Vunipola. Res: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Matt Mullan, Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Danny Care, George Ford, Jack Nowell.