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I believe England coach Eddie Jones’ choice to transfer Owen Farrell into fly-half to get Saturday’s quarter-final against Australia is the one that is best.
In fact, so long as Henry Slade was fit to replace him I believe it was unavoidable.
I’m since he has played well in Japan for George Ford, who has started every match of the World Cup in 10 – although possibly his form from the big matches has counted against him.
From the number of pressure games at global level in his career he has maybe slightly wobbled.
It may be a bit harsh on him because he’s further down on the line and more convinced now. But certainly before when he has played in knock-out games with big decisions, I wouldn’t have necessarily said he’d be my first pick.
Farrell, with Slade and Manu Tuilagi outdoors him was a Fantastic combination during the Six Nations.
It’s a combination that the resistance struggled to get any change out of and then was quite threatening.
It shuts down a lot of options for the resistance in terms of where they could strike since Farrell is so solid there – they’ve got to think of something different.
But there is going to be a question mark over Slade, who has not played with over 40 minutes of rugby since May due to a knee injury. Will he be sharp enough?
Surely on a Tiny run that he was during the Six Nations. He seemed dangerous . He ran supporting lines, showed great ability and toes – running in addition to kicking.
Defensively, he read the play brilliantly – therefore I like that combination.
Australia are going to come out that England won’t expect and haven’t seen.
It is a shout putting 19-year-old Jordan Petaia, that only has two caps, at at centre. However, it is his favoured position – rather than the wing, where he has won his caps – therefore it is not like him is completely throwing in at the deep end.
England’s attention is going to be on Petaia, which means you can guarantee that Australia are considering moving somewhere else and playing in a different way so that England will need to update their defence.
They’re a bunch and England have to be very open-minded concerning what Australia can bring.
The 1 surprise for me personally in Australia’s choice for Saturday is May Genia playing nine, since I really don’t think he’s been on good form. I think Nic White has been solid as a beginner and Genia has arrived on when the match is open.
If I was in that England aspect I’d be thinking, there. They will have to try and place pressure onto the ruck so that Genia gets ball that is static and also becomes a bit indecisive. I think England will adopt that scrum-half choice.
In addition, Genia and fly-half Christian Lealiifano have only begun together. In comparison to Farrell and Ben Youngs, is a gap there.
In the back row, Australia will should ensure that the experience of David Pocock and captain Michael Hooper offers them an advantage over England flankers Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.
But it may only ignite Underhill and Curry are the stars of the World Cup. If they get it directly from Pocock and Hooper, who are around as the best in the world for a partnership, then the England boys will place their name in lights.
Pocock and Hooper will soon know that their standing is up for grabs along with this game is going to find all their attention and then some.
In each these quarter-finals you’re going to find every last ounce of work and expertise – everything will be thrown out there. Nothing will be left to happen.
Nothing else matters, Whenever you’ve built up for four years to it. There aren’t any warm-up games, there’s not any qualification from the pool. This is it. This is the reason they sacrificed themselves, why they’ve been playing as long as they have and what they dreamt of out of when they were in school.
You’ve got Pocock and Hooper who have been around the block, played some big matches, but never won a World Cup. It’ll be their final chance.
Then you’ve got the young pretenders coming through who were likely motivated by Pocock and Hooper and want to take their own mantle.
The issue hanging over England’s performances has ever been, will they win the game if they’re behind with 20 minutes to go?
Of course, I would prefer England not to be in this position. But it might come down to the direction within the group. You have Farrell as captain, however, who is the pack leader? It’s not simple to say. If you ask eight people they would likely name eight unique players.
If it comes to stress moments, one voice at the forward has to make things happen.
There are plenty of players with more or 50 caps. They ought to be, by now, good enough at making those decisions.
It is whether they get it done in a quarter-final of this World Cup if there is no tomorrow, no debrief. It’s triumph and move on or move home.
Matt Dawson was talking to BBC Sport’s Becky Grey.
A World Cup quarter-final against Australia is time for its Eddie Jones job to send, ” says former England scrum-half Matt Dawson.
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