Rugby World Cup: England need pack leader to beat Australia – Matt Dawson column

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I think England coach Eddie Jones choice to proceed Owen Farrell into fly-half to get Saturdays quarter-final from Australia is the best one.
In fact, so long as Henry Slade was inserted to replace him I believe that it was inevitable.
I feel because he has played well in Japan for George Ford, who has started every game of this World Cup at 10 – although possibly his previous form in the matches has counted against him.
From the handful of pressure games at global level in his career hes maybe slightly wobbled.
It may be a little harsh on him because he is further down on the line and more convinced now. But certainly before when he has played knock-out matches with big choices, I would not have always said he would be my first pick.
Farrell, together with Slade and Manu Tuilagi outdoors him was a combination during the Six Nations.
It is a mix that the resistance struggled to find any change out of and was very threatening in attack.
It shuts down a lot of alternatives for the opposition in terms of where they can strike since Farrell is so strong there – they have got to think of something.
However there is going to be a question mark over Slade, who hasnt played over 40 minutes of rugby since May because of a knee injury. Can he be sharp?
Surely on a Tiny run he had been during the Six Nations. He looked dangerous going forward. He ran excellent lines, showed great skill and toes – running as well as kicking.
Defensively, that he read – therefore I like that mix.
Australia are going to come out that England have not seen and will not expect.
It is a shout putting. However, it is his position – rather than the wing, by which he has won his prior caps – so it is not like him is throwing in at the deep end.
Englands attention will be on Petaia, so its possible to guarantee that Australia are considering moving someplace else and playing in another way so that England will need to update their own defence.
They are a crowd and England have to be somewhat open-minded concerning what Australia can deliver.
The one surprise for me in the selection for Saturday of Australia is May Genia because I dont think hes been on great form, playing at nine. I think Nic White has been solid on when the match is open as Genia and a starter has arrived.
If I had been in that England side Id be thinking, there is the man well squeeze. They need to try and put pressure on the ruck so that Genia becomes a bit indecisive also gets static ball. I believe England will adopt that selection.
Moreover, Genia and fly-half Christian Lealiifano have only begun together. In comparison Farrell and Ben Youngs, there is a gap there.
In the rear, Australia will should guarantee that the expertise of David Pocock and ruler Michael Hooper provides them an edge over England flankers Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.
But it could only ignite Underhill and Curry to be the stars of this World Cup. If they get it directly from Pocock and Hooper, who are up there as the best in the world for a partnership, then the England boys will set their name in lights.
Pocock and Hooper will soon know that their reputation is up for grabs and this game will find all their attention and then a few.
In each of these quarter-finals you are going to get every ounce of work and expertise – everything is going to be thrown on the market. Nothing will be left to chance.
When youve built up for a few years for it, nothing else matters. There are no warm-up games, theres absolutely no qualification from the pool. This is it. That is why they sacrificed themselves, why they have been playing for as long as they own and what they dreamt of out of if they were in school.
You have got Pocock and Hooper who have been around the block, played some big games, but not won a World Cup. Itll be their opportunity.
Then youve gotten the young pretenders coming who were probably inspired by Pocock and Hooper and today want to shoot their own mantle.
The question hanging around Englands performances has at all times been, is that they win the game if theyre behind with 20 minutes to go?
Needless to say, I would prefer England to not maintain that position. However, it may come down to the leadership within the group. Who is the pack leader, although Youve Farrell as captain? Its not simple to say. If you ask eight people they would likely name eight distinct players.
When it comes to stress moments, one voice in the forwards has to make things happen.
There are plenty of players with 50 or more caps. They should be, by today, good enough in making those decisions.
Its whether they do it in a quarter-final of the World Cup if there is no tomorrow, no debrief. Its win and move on or move home.
Matt Dawson was talking to BBC Sports Becky Grey.
A World Cup quarter-final against Australia is time to get the Eddie Jones job to send, says former England scrum-half Matt Dawson.
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