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Wallabies look to ‘stack it on’ early in decisive England Test

Sydney (AFP) – Skipper Michael Hopper said Friday that the Wallabies plan to flip the script and come out firing in a bid to combat England’s fast starts in the decisive third Test in Sydney.

Eddie Jones’s men pinned Australia back so successfully in Brisbane last weekend that they raced a 19-0 lead before Australia clawed back into a game they ultimately lost 25-17.

It followed a nervewracking 30-28 first test win for the home side in Perth with Saturday’s match at a sold-out Sydney Cricket Ground deciding who takes home the Ella-Mobbs Cup.

Hooper said his team had learned from England’s Brisbane blitz and planned to pile the pressure on early.

“We’ve got to get out of our end well. If we can, get an opportunity to utilise our set piece, get down the other end of the field,” he said.

“We’ve been able to sustain a lot of pressure, come back into the games from being behind. We want to flip that — to come out with good momentum and stack it on and put these guys under pressure.

“They did a great job last week doing that to us. We’re wanting to change that round.”

The Wallabies have been hit hard by injury and suspension, with almost half of their initial squad for the series encountering problems.

But coach Dave Rennie has repeatedly stressed the strength of depth in Australian rugby and he was able to call up an experienced campaigner like Reece Hodge to fill in at fullback.

He is among four changes with Harry Wilson in at blindside flanker, James Slipper replacing Angus Bell at loosehead prop and Nick Frost slotting into the second cap.

“It’s been a challenge but we rotated through a lot of different combinations in the lead-up to this,” Hooper said.

“We’re confident in all our players that are going to roll out. Yes, there are changes and there hasn’t been too much consistency throughout this series but we’re super pleased with where the team’s at.”

More enjoyable
Jones’ team is aiming to become only the second ever England side to win a series in Australia, and he has urged them to find “the right balance of aggression and control”.

“It’s about being fierce but being calm, that’s the challenge for us,” he said.

They have also been upended by injuries, with Ollie Chessum and Lewis Ludlam coming into the pack to replace Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill, while Danny Care returns at scrum-half with Jack van Poortvliet benched.

Captain Courtney Lawes said the squad was relaxed heading into the decider, a trait he said had helped them in the series.

“We have to get everything we can out of training and it has to be intense and we have to do everything under pressure,” he said.

“But when we get back to the hotel, we enjoy ourselves, have fun, let go, don’t think about rugby, be a team, enjoy each other’s company… We’ve made it a much more enjoyable environment.

“We’re doing it because… that’s how you actually get the best out of the team, it’s all for a reason,” he added.

© 2022 AFP

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