England team to face Australia: Our writers select their 23s for second Test - and you can pick yours

·5 min read
England team to face Australia: Our writers select their 23s for second Test - and you can pick yours
England team to face Australia: Our writers select their 23s for second Test - and you can pick yours

Following their 30-28 defeat by Australia in the first Test on Saturday England know they cannot afford another slip-up in the second match this weekend.

So should Eddie Jones stick or twist for the battle in Brisbane? Should he continue with the Marcus Smith/Owen Farrell axis, and who, if anyone, has forced their way into the starting XV?

Our writers pick their matchday squads for the crunch clash...

Gavin Mairs

With the manner in which he scored a try with his first touch in international rugby, Henry Arundell instantly provided a snapshot of his huge potential, one that is worth investing in. What is important now is he is given enough opportunities to prove that potential ahead of the World Cup next year - and that means a first start on Saturday.

The Marcus Smith/Owen Farrell combination needs time to bed in and England must look to the third quarter of the first Test, when Smith was given more opportunity to attack as first receiver, as their attacking template.

Lewis Ludlam deserves a chance to step up to replace Tom Curry, who is unavailable, as does Ollie Chessum, which allows Courtney Lawes to remain in his favoured position at blindside.

Charlie Morgan

England’s tour has quickly arrived between a rock and a hard place but twisting with wholesale changes is unlikely to make it any easier to eke out a result.

Sticking is more likely to level the series. I have made two changes, starting Arundell and Sam Underhill to replace Joe Cokanasiga and Curry. Ludlam is unlucky but offers versatility from the bench.

Jack Willis would pose an elite jackalling threat, which might be effective with Andrew Brace refereeing. Underhill, though, is a proven Test performer who will be motivated to underline his worth.

Ben Coles

With Jonny May out as he recovers from Covid, Arundell gets a start following his sensational debut. It's been a hell of a ride for the teenager and while there might be questions about the other areas of his game (only because we haven't seen them tested), there's no doubt he will inject some welcome speed around the outside into England's attack.

Jones also made a salient point when he highlighted that Smith and Farrell have only had 148 minutes together so far as a 10-12 pairing. It's therefore worth another audition, but big improvements are required.

Otherwise, in-form Ludlam would be the pick to replace Curry at No 7 with his work-rate and brilliant performances of late, despite all of Underhill's defensive qualities, and Chessum's impressive cameo off the bench should earn him a start as well with the Leicester forward's emergence being one positive for Jones this season.

Charles Richardson

Replacing Curry is tough, but Underhill - his fellow Kamikaze Kid - is a handy deputy. While the Farrell-Smith axis did not set the world alight last week, there were enough glimpses of their passing range unlocking pockets of wide space; enough glimpses, at least, to give them one more shot.

Jack van Poortvliet added verve and vim off the bench; so, too, Arundell who is still an unknown quantity, and who still might be overhyped, but whose impact off the bench last week was indisputable.

Ludlam and Luke Cowan-Dickie should be rewarded for their bench impact, too, while Courtney Lawes must slide into comfortably his best position, lock.

Kate Rowan

It is so tempting to start Arundell considering the impact he made off the bench last weekend, particularly with May still out of contention for selection. However, I am going to be cautious and continue Arundell’s development more gradually. Jones always has the option to introduce him earlier than in the last Test, if needed.

A fledgling international career can be derailed so easily and, although he has shown all the signs of being a Test match animal, it has to be remembered that Arundell is only 19. Cokanasiga, who once had the same hype around him, retains his starting place as he has so much ability and needs the game-time coming back from injury.

It isn’t likely to happen, but I still would like to see the Farrell-Smith access reversed. Maybe there would be a psychological weight lifted for Farrell if he were to start at 10, and - while Smith is a very different kind of 12 than England usually pick - playing outside Farrell and inside Harlequins club-mate Joe Marchant may give him more freedom.

Ludlam, who I selected on the bench last week, deserves his promotion to the starting XV as he is clearly in form and his presence brings a quiet gravitas that he developed as Northampton captain last season.

It is a really difficult call to leave out Underhill but we know what he can do at the highest level of Test rugby, therefore the Bath flanker is on the bench to give Ludlam a shot at starting. Perhaps a contradictory tactic to how I have handled Arundell but I am going on age, experience and building to next year’s World Cup.

Have your say

Our team of writers have selected their preferred England teams. What do you think of the selections? Pick your own England XV and have your say in the comments section below...

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