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Rugby Insight: Nick Easter's three to watch - Australia

  • Nick Easter won 54 caps for England
  • Folau, Kuridrani and Pocock all feature in 'ones to watch'
  • Get live match stats and commentary with IBM TryTracker 

England face Australia on Saturday looking to make it 14 wins in a row and seal a clean sweep in the Old Mutual Wealth series, also going 2016 unbeaten.

Former England forward Nick Easter played 54 times for his country, also making 184 appearances for Harlequins and he picks out three key Australian players for England to watch out for on Saturday.

"I thought England were superb in how they reacted to the early set-back last weekend and their adaptability was really impressive.

"They all knew what was required from defensive requirements to positional awareness and they deserve a huge amount of credit for that. They all put in a huge shift, their game management was excellent and they seem like a very composed side at the moment who are comfortable in their own skin and who know exactly how wrestle momentum back if it goes against them.

"Australia are similar to Argentina in that England will face a side who want to play unstructured rugby but they are far more clinical in attack, they have better players in a better team and it’ll be a fired up Wallabies team who will be hurting from both the summer whitewash and the loss to Ireland last weekend.

"They are dangerous animal. I expect this game to still be in the balance in the final 10 minutes but deep down England will know they’ve got the beating of Australia. I think we could be in for a cracking game of rugby, it’ll be England’s biggest test...it always was going to be."

Israel Folau, 27, full back (51 caps, 20 tries) 

"The guy is hugely dangerous and a massive attacking weapon for Australia.

"He is brilliant in the air, he always has been since arriving from AFL. You know what’s coming and know what foot he prefers to step off but he is so strong, powerful and quick which allows him the ability to free up his arms as well and offload.

"He is one player England will need to keep a very close eye on."

Tevita Kuridrani, 25, centre (44 caps, 14 tries)

"My second player to watch is Tevita Kuridrani who seems to have rediscovered his form and has probably been one of their stand out players this autumn.

"England are probably a little bit light in the back-line and their centres - although England’s midfield do punch above their weight - and I think Australia with him and Reece Hodge will look to keep the Wallabies in the ascendancy as far as the gain-line is concerned.

"They like to play with a lot of width through Bernard Foley and I expect Tevita to get his hands on the ball quite a bit. He’s a strong running centre, he’s not so much of a ball playing or kicking centre and he’s a physical guy in defence and attack."

David Pocock, 28, flanker (65 caps, seven tries)

"If anyone is going to cause England problems at the breakdown it will be David Pocock in conjunction with his mate Michael Hooper.

"The fact he was missing in the second and third Tests against England in the summer had a massive impact on the result as we saw what he did to them at the World Cup.

"England will have to deal with him, he is going to make turnovers as he’s that sort of player. Australia thrive off that as that is the best ball you can have to attack when it’s unstructured and you’re trying to make that transition from defence to attack."He’s very strong over the ball and when he gets in that position there is no chance you are getting under him you've got to try and hit him as hard as possible."

"Billy Vunipola has been the best player for England this year, closely followed by Owen Farrell, and he's a huge miss, especially considering the threat of Pocock.

"Those two (Vunipola and Farrell) have been absolutely integral to their success. Billy always takes two or three guys to bring him down, his ball carrying sets up so many opportunities and England will have to pick the right balance in the back row now because a lot of their attacking has been a ‘bullying attack’, ‘front-line attack’ which gets them over the gain line.

"They don’t really have the power in their backline to do that now, they’ve got great runners but great runners need power to get them that front-foot ball so they will miss him – I wish him all the best in his recovery.

"Whoever replaces him they have to make sure the balance of the back row is right and not just a like for like replacement – especially given the threat they are up against.

"I played against Pocock a number of times, he’s very strong over the ball and when he gets in that position there is no chance you are getting under him you've got to try and hit him as hard as possible.

"He is so low to the ground and with his centre of gravity it’s quite hard to move him so you’ve got to make sure your approach work and identification as well as urgency is right on the money because otherwise you will concede that turnover.

"The other option is to force the guy to make tackles and that is another way of avoiding that impact at the breakdown, you spot him in the defensive line and run at him so he’s not able to get over the ball."


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