Saturday 17 August 2019

England warned of Aussie mauling

England’s Henry Slade tackles Emiliano Boffelli at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images
England’s Henry Slade tackles Emiliano Boffelli at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images

Gavin Mairs

Mako Vunipola has warned that England will be at risk of being torn apart by Australia at Twickenham next Saturday unless they significantly improve their performance following an underwhelming victory over Argentina.

Eddie Jones admitted that his side and their supporters had been left disappointed by what he described as a "grindathon" in the 21-8 victory over Los Pumas, which lacked "understanding and fluency".

Vunipola, who received the man-of-the-match award, admitted that a similar display is likely to be punished by the Wallabies, who arrived in the UK on the back of a thrilling 23-18 victory over New Zealand last month.

"We have to look at the game, see where we can improve. Australia, the team they are at the moment and the form they're in at the moment, they'll take you apart," said Vunipola.

"We're going into it with a new slate, new opportunities to perform better than we did today and we know Australia will be a tough opponent and one we're looking forward to.

"We know we've got areas to work on. But the important thing was coming out today, getting the win. We know we were rusty in certain elements. It's going to be another step up next week. That's going to be a tough game. But look, we won and we've still got areas to work on. We're not in a bad place.

"You've got to take the learning from it. You can't brush things under the carpet. There were some good bits as well. I think we defended pretty well.

"Unfortunately our discipline wasn't too great in allowing them out too easily. And as a team, that's something we've got to address. But, all in all, a good first hit-out, with much work to do."

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Jones took exception to being questioned about how he would have felt if he had paid £100 (€113) to watch his side's victory against Argentina - and whether it represented value for money.

"We gave 100 per cent effort. I don't understand the question," said Jones.

"I am not a columnist, I am not a businessman. All I do is coach a rugby team. I try to get them to play as hard as we can. We played hard. We might not have played well but we played hard. So I am disappointed in the question."

Jones countered that the match, which was decided by a try by Semesa Rokoduguni in the 66th minute, had been valuable through the prism of preparation for the World Cup in Japan in 2019.

"I am disappointed if you thought we didn't try hard, really disappointed - because we tried hard. You've just got to look at the players when they came off. They gave everything. Sometimes it just doesn't click."

Joe Marler, the Harlequins prop who missed the game because of a three-week suspension for striking, rejoined the England camp last night and is likely to be fast-tracked straight into the 23-man squad to face Australia.

Jonny May, the Leicester wing, is also likely to return to the starting line-up after missing Saturday's game with a hamstring injury as part of a new-look back three.

Mike Brown is undergoing a return-to-play concussion protocol after being removed from action during the first half of Saturday's game. He sustained a head injury after being clattered in the air by his opposite number Joaquin Tuculet as he caught a high ball.

Jones's major selection decision will be whether or not to bring Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje back into the side after the two Lions were rested against Argentina, with Farrell handed the job of a water carrier on Saturday.

Short-term logic suggests both should start, but Jones declared his own concern now was long-term planning for the World Cup.

"We are trying to win the World Cup in 2019 so everything we do now is about trying to win the World Cup, so the way we manage the player is with that in mind - for them to be at their best by Nov 2 2019

"So we're looking at those players. Some players need to get more work at other things. At this stage, that's the case with those two and we'll continue doing that until we think they need to play."

© The Daily Telegraph, London

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