Wallabies can beat England with 'bigger hit, more often' - Michael Hooper
Australia are targeting gainline domination in Saturday's second Test as they look to equal the series but flanker Michael Hooper says the Wallabies were not surprised by anything England threw at them in Brisbane.
Hooper was left with mixed emotions after their defeat in the first Test. On a personal level he managed to score twice and was impressed by their intensity in the opening 20 minutes but was left bemused by how they dropped off and allowed England back into the game.
Michael Cheika has responded by asking more from his pack, one which shows three changes from the first Test, and Hooper has responded by agreeing they need to assert more dominance in the gainline and make "bigger hits, more often" in defence.
There is no shortage of confidence in the Australia camp; although England won by 11 points in Brisbane, Hooper says the Wallabies were not overwhelmed at any stage."Their [England's] ability to expose our weaknesses was good like going into the last couple of minutes there with two tries, their two tries coming off getting good pressure on us for the duration of the game," Hooper said. "I wouldn't say they threw anything at us that blew us away so for us it's about being able to control our stuff better which has been our focus this week which is what we need to do to get more that really good stuff from the first game."
Despite not being blown away by England, Hooper was left impressed by James Haskell and is relishing the chance to face their back-row again this weekend in what he predicts will be an atmosphere akin to a "zoo" in Melbourne. "I'm really excited to play in this Test. From Saturday night, I would've played on Sunday to get straight back into it, rip straight back in and go again against these guys. It's sport, we were put under the pump.
England played a good game, got on top of us last week and we need to get it done, to square up the series."The pressure is on us but that's where we are. We are excited to get out there for another 80 minutes to roll with these guys as we can give so much more."
England team to face Australia in the Second Test in Melbourne
James Haskell starts with Joe Launchbury, Matt Mullan and Elliot Daly among the replacements as England face Australia in Melbourne on Saturday 18 June .
Ford starts at fly-half, with Owen Farrell moving to inside centre and Nowell is reinstated on the wing.
The pack is unchanged to the one that started the first Test against Australia in Brisbane last weekend.
Elsewhere Saracens hooker Jamie George, Harlequins back-row forward Jack Clifford and Wasps centre Elliot Daly are all included as replacements.
Back-row forward Chris Robshaw will win his 50th England cap having made his debut against Argentina in 2009.
"We've picked a 23 to get the job done in Melbourne," said England head coach Eddie Jones. "Throughout the week the players have shown they're desperate to wear the red rose which meant some close calls on selection."It's a 23 that suits the way we want to play at AAMI Park. George and Owen playing together gives us two great kicking options and Jack is a high work-rate player.
Jamie, Jack and Elliot have shown huge desire this week and deserve their spots on the bench.
"As soon as we came off the field in Brisbane our thoughts turned to Melbourne and I'm pleased with how we've prepared as the week has progressed. The players have recognised the importance of going up another level and have trained with a real intensity and purpose."We weren't satisfied with last weekend's performance and we know there's lots to improve on, particularly aspects of our defence and breakdown work, which we're confident we've remedied."
We know the job isn't done. We came here to win a Test series and that's what we intend to do. Australia will try and throw everything at us on Saturday and we'll be ready for the challenge.
Brian Moore Comment
Having virtually no possession and going behind by two tries in the first 15 minutes would have buried most sides.
England found a way to cling on and then took advantage of a marginal, though correct, obstruction call, which prevented them going further behind. This sort of resilience is the staple of good sides and is not easily acquired. You need not only the mental belief in your colleagues and game structure; you need to manufacture a way to scavenge points.
England did this through keeping tremendous physical pressure on the Australians at the breakdown, a phase of play at which they habitually dominate.
The contributions of man-of-the-match James Haskell, and 'man of the underrated' Chris Robshaw, were crucial. The twin threat of David Pocock and Michael Hooper was not just nullified, it was eclipsed by a turnover ratio of 6:1 in a first half in which England were second best for long periods.
James Haskell – Man of the Match
The Wasps flanker continued his re-birth under the astute management of Eddie Jones with a magnificent performance in Brisbane.
Haskell is a big character but seems to be a confidence player, and having been marginalised under the Stuart Lancaster regime, he is now playing arguably the best Test rugby of his career.
In defence he mixed big hits with a ferocious work-rate that saw him cover every blade of grass while making 18 tackles, and he was a constant physical presence at the breakdown too, throwing in three turnovers for good measure.
His running game, dormant for so long in England colours, has also reappeared and his pacy 50m second-half break - which included a side-step many an England winger would covet - was decisive in Yarde's try.
Jones names England Squad to tour Australia
Manu Tuilagi has been named in England's squad to tour Australia despite suffering a hamstring injury on Saturday that may rule him out of next month's test series.
The powerful centre limped off the pitch during Leicester's Premiership semi-final defeat by Saracens on Saturday, a game in which England back Owen Farrell was also injured.
England will assess both players before a final decision on whether they will travel to Australia.
England coach Eddie Jones has named four uncapped players in his 32-man squad, including Leinster's Worcester-bound centre Ben Te'o.
Other new faces include Leicester and Harlequin props Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler, along Northampton back-rower Teimana Harrison.
There was no place for winger Chris Ashton or flyhalf Danny Cipriani.
Jones has also named a 26-man squad for next week's match against Wales at Twickenham, which does not include any Saracens or Exeter players involved in the Premiership final.
"We have selected two squads of players who can win all four games," Jones said on Sunday.
"It's important we get off to a good start against Wales and play positive rugby and win. "We are excited to being touring Australia in June. To beat the Wallabies in Australia you have to play a physical, aggressive brand of rugby and that's what we intend to do," Jones added. "We will need to be a fit, cohesive, tactically flexible team and play with a high intensity. We have to be in their faces from the first minute of the first test." "We are still a young squad with an average age of 24 so this will be a big learning experience."
The first test against Australia is in Brisbane on June 11.
Forwards: Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jack Clifford, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Teimana Harrison, Dylan Hartley, James Haskell, Paul Hill, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Matt Mullan, Chris Robshaw, Kyle Sinckler, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola.
Backs: Mike Brown, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Alex Goode, Jonathan Joseph, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Ben Youngs.
Squad v Wales:
Forwards: Dave Attwood, Dan Cole, Jack Clifford, Ellis Genge, Dylan Hartley, Teimana Harrison, James Haskell, Paul Hill, Matt Kvesic, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Matt Mullan, Chris Robshaw, Kyle Sinckler, Tommy Taylor.
Backs: Mike Brown, Luther Burrell, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Ben Youngs.
Inaugural USA Professional Rugby Union League Launches
USA ANNOUNCES ITS OWN DOMESTIC RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
For the very first time, North American rugby union fans and players will have their own professional rugby Union league, the Professional Rugby Organization (PRO Rugby).
Exclusively sanctioned by USA Rugby and World Rugby, competition will begin in April 2016 with six teams in major metropolitan areas in the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains and California.
USA Rugby Chairman Bob Latham commented "As the fastest growing team sport in the USA, it is the time to have a sanctioned professional competition. We are very happy to partner with PRO Rugby in taking this step to popularize the game, to inspire Americans to fall in love with rugby and to show the rugby world what American players can do."
“A lot of people feel pro sports used to be a positive influence - it built character and provided role models, but not so much anymore. I believe that by adhering to rugby's core beliefs, we can reclaim those lost sporting values and provide opportunity for a new generation of North American rugby players."
2017 will see the addition of Canadian-based teams into the Competition.
Rugby is a natural fit for the USA. Interest in the sport is at an all-time high and the demand for a professional competition is clear.
The structure of the competition will be as follows.
In its inaugural year, the PRO Rugby 2016 season will feature 10 games per club and run from April - July in medium-size venues, allowing fans to connect with their teams and build the sense of camaraderie and loyalty that the game is associated with. The plan is to develop existing rugby communities to provide a pathway for local players into the professional ranks.
Once PRO Rugby has been established US and Canadian players will be able to train year round and play in elite competition, something that has been sorely missing from rugby development in North America up until now.
With the completion of the record-breaking 2015 Rugby World Cup in England and the reintroduction of the sport into the 2016 Rio Olympics, it was felt now was the time to launch.
Visit www.PRORugby.org for more details
Old Mutual Wealth England Player of the Year
England's Grand-Slam winning quintet Billy Vunipola, George Kruis, Anthony Watson, James Haskell and Chris Robshaw have all been nominated for the Old Mutual Wealth England Player of the Year.
The Old Mutual Wealth England Player of the Year award is presented to the outstanding player from the 2015-2016 season, as voted for by the England Elite Playing Squad.
The winner will be announced at the RPA Players’ Awards 2016 in association with England Rugby on Wednesday 11 May 2016.
All five played key roles in helping England land their first Grand Slam since 2003.
“It’s always nice to be nominated by your teammates for an award but I think for me it’s not about individual awards it’s about how the team perform and I’m just happy to be in a great team, playing with a great bunch of guys and under really good coaches," said Saracens No 8 Vunipola.
His club team mate Kruis added: “You play the game to gain the respect of your teammates, particularly at the highest level of the sport and I’m very thankful and excited to be recognised alongside four fantastic players.”
Bath wing Watson scored three tries in the 2016 tournament and said he was "honoured to be nominated".
"It’s very inspiring but I have to keep the hard work going now and push on towards Australia in June,” he added.
Wasps back-row forward Haskell said he was "lost for words" to be shortlisted.
He added:"To be nominated alongside such a strong group of players is very flattering and I just hope collectively as a squad we can build on our RBS 6 Nations momentum and play our best brand of rugby down in Australia.”
Harlequins flanker Robshaw said: "I cherish every opportunity I get to wear an England shirt and it’s an honour that the guys who you compete with in week out appreciate the contribution you make to the team.”
The Old Mutual Wealth England Player of the Year
Nominee: Billy Vunipola
Nominee: George Kruis
Nominee: Anthony Watson
Nominee: James Haskell
Nominee: Chris Robshaw
Wasps won’t dwell on Champions Cup defeat
James Haskell says Wasps cannot dwell on their Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Saracens as they need to concentrate on their Premiership challenge.
Wasps took an early lead against Sarries through Dan Robson's first-minute try at the Madejski Stadium but they were unable to hold off the Premiership leaders as they went down 24-17.
Haskell knows Wasps, who are second behind Saracens in the Premiership table, must now regroup as they look to capture the domestic crown, but he also praised their performance in Reading.
He said: "When you play a game like that, you get the initial disappointment, but we gave it everything we had.
"Credit to Saracens, they are a team that plays that strangling rugby a lot of the time, and it is very difficult to make inroads. When we did, we looked very dangerous.
"They see an opportunity. If you are on the front foot going at them, then that kinds of stops them, but if you don't, it kind of plays a little bit into their hands and it is very difficult to deal with."
Click Here for James Haskell's post-match interview in full.
Haskell: George Smith is still better than any of us
James Haskell and George Smith speak to Sonja McLaughlan ahead of their Champions Cup semi final against Saracens. The Wasps are full of praise for each other as Haskell admits Smith is "still very smooth and still better than any of us who try to do what he does".
When asked about Haskell's skills, Smith jokes that the England player is "still developing".
This clip is originally from 5 live Sport on Thursday 21 April.
Haskell returns to train at his original Rugby Club Maidenhead RFC
HOME BOY: James Haskell meets some of the junior players at Maidenhead RFC.
Back row forward James Haskell returned to Maidenhead RFC this week for a training session on the 3G pitch at Braywick with his Wasps team.
The 31-year-old, who was born in Windsor but played his junior rugby at Maidenhead, has spoken in the past of his fondness for the club and the start they gave him in the sport and in particular his old coach Gordon Macdonald, sadly departed, who James says was instrumental into getting him into England Age Group rugby.
Haskell, who was part of England’s triumphant Six Nations-winning team, took time out of the session to say hello to some of Maidenhead’s future stars.
Third-placed Wasps are next in action in the Premiership Saturday week away to Worcester Warriors but face a very tough challenge this weekend in the Quarter finals of the European Champions Cup against Exeter.