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Australia v England talking points

England play the first of three Tests against Australia at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday in search of an historic series victory Down Under.

Here Press Association Sport discusses five talking points heading into the match.


The fuse was lit for the Brisbane opener when Eddie Jones outlined England's intent to play 'Bodyline' rugby Down Under in reference to the controversial brand of cricket adopted by Douglas Jardine's Ashes winners of 1932-33. In reality Jones is promising nothing more than confrontation, aggression and spite, which are hardly unknown to Test rugby, but it is the imagery that is important: a team willing to go to new places to carve out their own place in history.


Jones has hardly put a foot wrong during his seven months in charge, a first Grand Slam in 13 years giving England instant reward for their appointment of the wily veteran coach. However, a three-Test series against World Cup finalists Australia is a far more daunting assignment than an RBS 6 Nations campaign and over the next fortnight Jones will be given a clearer picture of whether England can fulfil his vision of becoming the dominant force in the game.


Australia have been transformed under Michael Cheika, who in 11 months took a dysfunctional team mired in controversy and guided them into the World Cup final - inflicting a record defeat on England at Twickenham en route. Several of that side are missing, however, with the influential Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper playing in French club rugby and Matt Toomua and Kurtley Beale injured. Australia's midfield has a one-dimensional look in their absence, but the presence of David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the back row is key.


Jones has picked Owen Farrell instead of George Ford at fly-half in anticipation of the physical onslaught expected from Australia, with the latter promised a "significant" supporting role at Suncorp Stadium. It is the first time Farrell has started in the position under Jones and his elevation is hardly a surprise given his central role in Saracens' double-winning season. The change strengthens England defensively and while Farrell lacks Ford's vision, his game is becoming more rounded with each passing week.


A more surprising pick than Farrell's promotion is the decision to start Marland Yarde ahead of Jack Nowell on the left wing. Nowell has been superb for Exeter this season and is one of England's Grand Slam heroes, but Jones feels that helping the Chiefs reach the Aviva Premiership final has meant he has been unable to train and is not ready for the pace of the first Test. Faith has been placed in the speed and power of Yarde, rather than his patchy form for England and Harlequins, and it will need to be repaid in the Brisbane opener.


From Belfast Telegraph