Wallabies coach Dave Rennie believes he has assembled the strongest squad under his tenure for the three-match Test series against England and he will soon find out if they have what it takes to deliver.
The Wallabies and England will clash at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday 2nd July, before they head to Brisbane to play at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 9th July. The series concludes the week after on 16th July at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
With the World Cup in France fast approaching in 2023, this year is a big one for the Wallabies and it could not start with a bigger series against England.
England have dominated Australia in recent times. Indeed they have won the last eight games. The last being the spring international at Twickenham in November 2021 when England cruised to a 32-15 victory.
England also came out on top in the 2019 World Cup in Japan when they defeated the Wallabies 40-16 in the quarter-finals.
It is fair to say that the Wallabies will be keen to take out some revenge against England and if they can some how come out on top it will be the perfect springboard for the rest of the year. But that may be easier said than done against Eddie Jones’ men.
What: Australia v England three-match Test Series
Where: Optus Stadium, Perth. Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. SCG, Sydney
When: 2nd, 9th and 16th July
Recent form for the Wallabies
The 2021 campaign was a mixed one for the Wallabies with plenty of ups and down along the way.
It started well as they defeated France 2-1 in a three-match series down under. There was nothing to separate the two sides but Australia came out on top when winning the deciding Test 33-30 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Rennie’s men then suffered some heavy defeats against New Zealand before bouncing back with wins over South Africa and Argentina in The Rugby Championship.
It was then time to head over to the UK for the spring tour to face Scotland, England and Wales, stopping in Japan on the way. Australia beat Japan 32-20 but that was as good as the tour got.
The Wallabies slipped to a 15-13 defeat against Scotland before losing 32-15 against England. The curtain came down on the year with a 29-28 loss to Wales. Failing to pick up anything from those three games would have been a bitter pill to swallow.
But now 2022 is here and it is time to go again ahead of what is huge year.
Rennie confirms his Wallabies squad for England series
So Australia have not beaten England since 2015 and face a big uphill battle to end the drought when the series gets underway on 2nd July.
However Rennie could not be happier with his squad that includes six uncapped players. They are NSW Waratahs pair Jed Holloway and David Porecki, Brumbies locks Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville, Rebels prop Pone Fa'amausili and Reds flyer Suliasi Vunivalu.
Michael Hooper will again captain the side, with James Slipper, who has 114 Tests to his name, also in there to add plenty of experience.
Quade Cooper, Marika Koroibete and Samu Kerevi, who are all based in Japan, are the three oversees selections.
Speaking after the squad was announced, Rennie was excited by the group he has put together.
"The past two years have allowed us to build strong foundations as a group but there's no doubt that we have a lot more in us,” he told reporters.
“We are looking forward to working hard and preparing as a group to put in a performance that makes our supporters proud against England next month.”
Duo left out
There is also a couple of notable absentees from the squad, with both Fraser McReight and Reece Hodge not included in the 35. The decision to leave McReight out in particular raised one or two eyebrows.
Rennie admitted it was a tough call and says them being left out is a reflection of the quality he has to select from with competition for places being hot.
McReight remains firmly in Rennie’s plans and will be called upon again should anything happen to skipper Hooper.
For now the 23-year-old will continue his development with the Australian A program and will play in the Pacific Nations Cup.
Meanwhile Hodge has paid the price for a mixed bag of form, with Rennie preferring to go with Tom Wright and Vunivalu. Rennie will also play for Australia A.