Former England international Stuart Barnes and 71-cap Wallaby have picked apart the weaknesses of Eddie Jones’ side ahead of a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match-up.
And there aren’t many.
While England have cruised through their pool at a canter, Barnes believes that Australia’s stuttering form and lack of threat with the ball in hand will not be causing the Poms to endure sleepless nights.
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Manu Tuilagi is without doubt one of England’s finest attacking talents, and with 115kg of horsepower behind him he’s going to be tough to stop.
But while he is one of England’s biggest strengths, Tuilagi could also be their weakness.
“England do play a very fast, aggressive rush game, and the key to it is Tuilagi,” Barnes explained.
“At the start of that piece, you talked about England’s defence being a strength but also a weakness. That’s summed up in this man Tuilagi. When he comes hammering off that No. 13 channel he can wreck a defence, he doesn’t make a tackle, he makes a turnover.
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“But he also, gets absolutely lost (defensively). But if you are playing around the back, England will have (Owen) Farrell at No. 12 who’s a great communicator, talking to him, working with him making sure he’s not disconnected inside or out. I think for Australia to win, they have to play in that 15-metre channel to try and get outside England.
“If they just play around the back, England will rush, they’re so well organised and I can’t see where Australia make the linebreak.”
Mitchell, meanwhile, explained that England’s constant search for the upper-hand in territory is part of a wider plan — to use their set-piece as the basis for their attack.
Instead of booting the ball back upfield, Mitchell urged Australia to look to run the ball back.
“England, unlike a lot of other teams, are really strong on the set-piece plays,” he said.
“Other teams like that transition, loose attack. England will find space kicking it long mid-field deep into the 22 of the opposition, hoping they kick it back so England can go straight into their set-piece. Off a lineout, England are comfortable and they can attack off that.
“So Australia, they like to run. There are opportunities to find metreage through the middle.”
The former Wallabies winger also explained that Australia can put No. 10 George Ford under pressure by targeting him in defence from those crucial English set pieces.
“There’s an opportunity to attack Ford,” Mitchell added. “He’s a really strong player but like we did in 2015, there’s an opportunity for a (Michael) Hooper or (David) Pocock to come from that No. 13 channel.
“Perhaps it’s something you can only do once, when he’s looking one way, coming in to tickle his rib cage a bit, so the next time he does it, he’s a little jittery, he’s second guessing, he’s a bit deeper and that timing is out again. It’s a thing you can only use once.”