John Pye
John Pye has been AP's Asia-Pacific Sports Editor since 2000
jpye@ap.org

Drought broken: Wallabies aiming for series win over England

July 8, 2022 GMT
England players react following their loss in the rugby international against the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
England players react following their loss in the rugby international against the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
England players react following their loss in the rugby international against the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
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England players react following their loss in the rugby international against the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)
1 of 7
England players react following their loss in the rugby international against the Wallabies in Perth, Australia, Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The Wallabies are getting new dad Taniela Tupou back from injury and giving Noah Lolesio plenty of notice that he’ll be filling the play-making role, enhancing their prospects for a series-clinching win against England.

After winning despite being a player down following Darcy Swain’s first-half red card and after the late withdrawal of flyhalf Quade Cooper in the first test — Lolesio was then rushed into the playmaker role — the Australians are confident they can go back-to-back against England at a venue where they’re on a 10-test winning streak.

The 30-28 victory last week ended an eight-test losing streak against an England lineup guided by former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones. England will have to rebound quickly to keep the three-match series alive, whereas Australia can still focus on building cohesion.

“It’s confirmation that we’re on the right track,” Hooper said of the series-opening win in Perth. “It’s confirmation that things we are putting in place are working. There was a few things that didn’t go to plan last week that we had to work our way out of, and we managed to do that.

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“We’re doing some really good things. Focus this week . . . (is) how we can get better.”

Wallabies lock Swain was sent off in the 31st minute last week for foul play when he retaliated against England’s Johnny Hill.

Hooper said the Australians were expecting more of the same from the England forwards, and had to be careful how to deal with it.

“We can’t be getting sucked into that,” he said. “It’s always a factor and dealing with it the right way is going to be a challenge — but a good one.

“Smarts around how you come out on top of that is important.”

The Australian skipper said he was looking forward to having a refreshed Tupou back in the pack, adding some weight, speed and energy.

“He can be damaging at the scrum. Damaging around the park,” Hooper said. “But playing his role, not getting sucked into things . . . is going to be really important.”

Tupou, who has spent two months on the sidelines because of a calf strain, said he’s feeling more energized since becoming a father for the first time last week. His new son is Nela — Tupou’s nickname.

He said he’s looking forward to getting straight back into thick of things against prop Ellis Genge, a meeting which could have a big impact on the outcome of the test.

“He’s exceptionally explosive . . . it should be a good set-piece battle with him and Ellis,” England forwards coach Richard Cockerill said. “So it all sets it up for a nice tasty evening.

“We want it to be gladiatorial, physical, we want people to come (and say) ‘that first clash it’s going to be great, let’s go and see it.’ Let’s enjoy the physical parts, the feisty parts and, within the laws of the game, let’s get into it.”

Genge toured but didn’t play when England beat Australia in 2016, the Wallabies’ last loss at Suncorp Stadium. The 27-year-old prop, who has been an England regular since 2019, said Australia’s record at the Brisbane venue made it a “fortress” but not one that’s impenetrable.

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Jones knows that, having guided England to that win in Brisbane in six years ago after maintaining an unbeaten run at Suncorp Stadium when he was head coach of Australia.

He said he was using the tour to prepare England for next year’s World Cup, and shuffled his backline to give debuts to Tommy Freeman and Guy Porter in the outside backs, as well as a starting spot to scrumhalf Jack van Poortvliet. Flanker Sam Underhill replaced Tom Curry on the openside.

Injuries and suspensions forced Australia coach Dave Rennie to change his winning combination, with Jordan Petaia starting at fullback to replace injured Tom Banks and Hunter Paisami selected to partner Samu Kerevi in the centers at the expense of Len Ikitau.

Matt Philip replaced Swain, who was suspended for the last two tests of the series.

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Lineups:

Australia: Jordan Petaia, Tom Wright, Hunter Paisami, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Michael Hooper, Rob Leota, Cadeyrn Neville, Matt Philip, Taniela Tupou, David Porecki, Angus Bell. Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Nick Frost, Pete Samu, Jake Gordon, James O’Connor, Izaia Perese.

England: Freddie Steward, Jack Nowell, Guy Porter, Owen Farrell (captain), Tommy Freeman, Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Will Stuart, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Joe Heyes, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Danny Care, Henry Arundell.

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