Eddie Jones has resisted the urge to make wholesale changes, with Teimana Harrison being the only new face in the starting line-up for the injured James Haskell, emphasising that just because the series is finished doesn’t mean that England’s work is done in Australia.
Five players however will return to England without any Test minutes under their belt – Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Alex Goode, Ben Te’o and Henry Slade – with their chances to impress limited to their work on the training field. For Test minutes they will have to wait until November.
Jones must have been tempted to experiment but the price of driving home England’s dominance over Australia in this series is too much to resist, allowing Jones to settle his own scores as England continuie their revival.
Despite that remarkable defensive stand in Melbourne, England’s head coach seemed far from satisfied with the proficency of England’s attack.
A better surface than the AAMI Park shambles should certainly help England convert that set-piece dominance from the second Test into more attacking rugby akin to what we saw in the opener back at Suncorp after the introduction of George Ford.
Now though without one of their standout performers on this tour in Haskell, the key will be how England cope without his effectiveness in defence and at slowing Australia down at the breakdown.
Michael Cheika’s side desperately need this win going into the Rugby Championship, and while Samu Kerevi is unlucky to miss out after not disgracing himself in his first two caps, with Matt Toomua back at the helm at inside centre the Wallabies look immediately stronger.
The more width Australia can play with the better as far as their chances go of pegging back a game in the series, and Toomua’s extra distribution can make that happen.
Chances haven’t been much of an issue for Australia but their finishing has been. The return of Toomua and faith in their systems can ease the frustration.
Cheika has spoken this week about this period being a character-building phase for the Wallabies after the feel-good ride to last year’s Rugby World Cup final, and while his tone has been somewhat muted throughout the series compared to the barbs from Jones, his side need plenty of bite this weekend.
England arrived having only ever won three Tests against Australia down under. They could depart having surprisingly doubled that tally.
2016: England won 23-7 in Melbourne
2016: England won 39-28 in Brisbane
2015: Australia won 33-13 at Twickenham
2014: England won 26-17 at Twickenham
2013: England won 20-13 at Twickenham
2012: Australia won 20-14 at Twickenham
2010: England won 35-18 at Twickenham
2010: England won 21-20 in Sydney
POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result
AUS (on 84.99 points) at home -vs- ENG (on 88.18 points)
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point
|If AUS win by 1-15 points||1.019||86.01||87.16||No|
|If AUS win by more than 15||1.529||86.52||86.65||No|
|If result is a draw||0.019||85.01||88.16||No|
|If ENG win by 1-15 points||0.981||84.01||89.16||No|
|If ENG win by more than 15||1.471||83.52||89.65||No|
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Christian Leali’ifano, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Jack Clifford, 22 Danny Care, 23 Elliot Daly
Date: Saturday, June 25
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20:00 local (10:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)