June 2016 sees England tour Australia for the first time in 6 years. Last time out it finished a 1-1 draw. With the last success coming way back in 2003, leading to World Cup glory later that year. However, England have never won a series in Australia.
Therefore Eddie Jones and his men are aiming to create history, and I’m confident they can. Since the appointment of charismatic Jones, England have gone from strength to strength in a relatively short period of time. Some would say that this tour has come too soon for them, but England are improving, and gaining momentum. Michael Korda once said “One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals”, the second best team in the world seems like a good place to start for a team planning for world domination.
In hindsight, Jones hasn’t changed his squad too much. The ‘out with the old, in with the new’ philosophy is something every new coach adopts, but the bulk of the squad is very much the same as the infamous 2015 World Cup side. If anything, the incredible rise from the dead has shown the true character of the players, whether the credit goes down to the coach or the players themselves it doesn’t matter. The same bunch of players so heavily criticised just 8 months ago look just that bit hungrier for success now, and with the blooding of high class young players such as George Kruis and Maro Itoje, “The world’s best second-row” according to Matt Dawson, England have regained their dependable set-piece.
England are yet to lose under Jones, and returning to his homeland, notorious for its ‘mind games’ will unphase him and therefore the players – a psychological advantage we’ve never really had when touring. Of the 3 big southern hemisphere sides, Australia are the least consistent. England have had more success against them in recent years than they have against South Africa and New Zealand, however the Wallabies are stronger than they have been for many years.
Domestic form is another reason we should be feeling optimistic. No doubt the spine of the team will be based on double champions Saracens’ side, who seem unstoppable at the minute, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, the Brumbies are the highest placed Australian side in the Super 15 – the only Australian team currently in the top 5.
Being a keen follower on social media, the players seem to be in a good place. The comradery and banter is clear to see, particularly for those who follow James Haskell (If you’re not I would recommend!).
This one from Mike Brown isn’t bad either. (Warning: Explicit Language)
Joking aside, the squad have the ability to do something very special over the next few weeks. Eddie Jones highlighted the importance of winning the first test, a point echoed by Will Greenwood. I think we will win the first test in Brisbane, Australia will bounce back in Melbourne, setting up a nice decider in Sydney on the 25th June where England will achieve their first ever series win in Australia.
PREDICTION: 2-1 England