England’s Autumn International programme will see them host Argentina, Australia and Samoa in three vital games as they build towards the next World Cup.
Despite their unbeaten run ending in Dublin, English rugby remains in rude health. A hugely successful last 18 months and a seriously impressive, against-the-odds series win in Argentina this summer means fans will be expecting nothing less than three home wins this November.
The hardest part for Eddie Jones will be picking his squad, as the returning Lions and injured players unavailable for the successful trip to Argentina numbered around 30.
With Jones set on unearthing a couple of young gems before the squad heads to Japan, expect plenty of young talent on show and plenty of old heads fighting to keep their jersies.
It should mean fans are in for some scintillating rugby, so, with that prospect in mind we cast our eye over the Autumn’s opposition.
Despite already losing over half his squad to the Lions, Eddie Jones ignored several seasoned international players and headed to Argentina last month with what was little more than a development squad.
Two wins from two against a full-strength Argentina seemed to confirm that Los Puma’s star is very much on the wane.
It was widely expected that Argentina effectively now playing in Super Rugby as Los Jaguares would result in a very well-gelled team who would achieve further success on the international scene, but that hasn’t happened.
Perhaps the lack of challenging new ideas and noticeable step up in quality of teammates that joining a national squad usually brings has resulted in a comfort zone for the players. What’s clear is that something needs to change.
The loss to a 14-man England at Twickenham last year and last month’s humiliation at home will mean Argentina will be wounded and unfancied in equal measures, a combination that used to serve them very well.
Expect a full-blooded test match, with both teams desperate for a win again a side they’ll share the same group with in Japan.
The Aussies’ recent home loss to Scotland, combined with their defeats in Dublin and London last Autumn, suggests they are undergoing a transition, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
Australia have a habit of unearthing talent that quickly takes to international rugby and their pride will demand revenge for their four straight defeats at the hands of England. With those tests all going down to the wire, they will fancy their chances of causing an upset at HQ.
Samoa, though still achieving international success, are not currently showing the form that saw once them regularly claim the scapls of bigger rugby nations.
That reason alone may tempt Eddie Jones to throw a few more young bolters into the mix and that, against a side always fully committed and dripping with natural talent, could make for the most open and thrilling match of the series.
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