澳大利亞對陣英格蘭。英格蘭球迷在三場測試中應該注意什麼?

2個月前
澳大利亞對陣英格蘭。英格蘭球迷在三場測試中應該注意什麼?

當英格蘭隊在2016年最後一次出訪澳大利亞時,主教練埃迪-瓊斯剛剛帶領他的球隊獲得了13年來的第一個大滿貫,為一群幾個月前在橄欖球世界盃小組賽中失利的球員重新注入活力。

在球場上,瓊斯是果斷的。在場外,他充滿了惡作劇,在對面的邁克爾-切卡身邊跑來跑去。

對於他的球員、媒體和英國橄欖球公眾來說,瓊斯是在水上行走。

六年過去了,情況看起來非常不同。

自2016年以來,出現了一些高潮--最引人注目的是進入2019年世界盃決賽--但在最近幾個賽季中,瓊斯的地位在糟糕的六國運動之後兩次受到質疑。

自2019年橄欖球世界盃以來,英格蘭隊已經打了9個客場,輸了5場。

那麼,英格蘭的支持者們能從他們的三場測試之旅中期待什麼呢?什麼樣的澳大利亞在等待?小袋鼠隊是否正在崛起,或者瓊斯是否會改善他對祖國的8-0完美勝利記錄?

瓊斯與前蘭德威克隊友切卡的爭吵是2016年巡迴賽的一個有趣的次要情節。瓊斯利用一切機會培養圍攻心態,為他的球員減壓,並在熱情洋溢的切卡面前大放厥詞。

瓊斯在那次巡迴賽中的滑稽行為堪稱傳奇:在裁判會議上呆了一分鐘就走了,對澳大利亞媒體的報道大發雷霆,並邀請NRL偉大的安德魯-約翰斯參加英格蘭訓練,這些都是他的眾多伎倆。

"我認為艾迪在2016年的表現是一個大手筆,"前澳大利亞邊鋒德魯-米切爾告訴《橄欖球聯盟周刊》播客。

"從2015年後英格蘭隊的情況來看,他所做的是將所有的注意力從球員和他們的位置上轉移開來,並將注意力放在他與邁克爾-切卡之間。"

恰好是瓊斯和英格蘭隊在大分舉行的2019年世界盃四分之一決賽中以40-16擊敗小袋鼠隊,迎來了切卡統治的終結。

切卡的繼任者--不那麼動盪的新西蘭人戴夫-雷尼--不太可能那麼心甘情願地參與心理遊戲。

自2018年取代迪倫-哈特利以來,歐文-法雷爾一直是瓊斯作為隊長的得力助手,並在一年後的世界盃上做出了出色的工作。

然而,這位薩拉森人最近一直在努力在測試場上留下他慣常的印記,這並不是因為傷病的幫助,這些傷病限制了他在2021年秋季的比賽,並使他在第二年春季的六國賽中被排除。

在身體健康的情況下,法雷爾一直是瓊斯的選擇,並在最近一月被支持保留隊長職位。

現在有消息稱,法雷爾將回歸隊伍,而考特尼-勞斯可能會保留他在六國賽後半段的袖標。

前英格蘭隊邊鋒烏戈-蒙耶說,這可以讓法雷爾得到更多的幫助--還有飛翼球員馬庫斯-史密斯。

"我希望歐文-法雷爾發揮出最好的水平,因為當我們得到歐文-法雷爾的最好水平時,他是世界上最好的球員之一,"Monye告訴橄欖球聯盟周刊。

"如果我們真的得到一個完全燃燒的歐文-法雷爾和馬庫斯-史密斯,他目前正處於火熱狀態,我對這支球隊能夠取得的成就充滿信心,不僅是在今年夏天,而且在未來一年半。"

但誰將在明年的法國世界盃上帶領英格蘭隊,屆時勞斯將34歲?埃利斯-根格、湯姆-庫里或馬羅-伊托吉中的一個會成為長期隊長嗎?

回到未來的10號位

雖然史密斯被安排在英格蘭隊的飛人位置上,法雷爾與他一起擔任內線中鋒,但雷尼在10號位的選擇歸結為兩個熟悉的人物。

34歲的Quade Cooper和31歲的James O'Connor在2008年首次亮相,當時英格蘭後衛Freddie Steward只有7歲。

兩人都有過不光彩的職業生涯,並以出色的表現強行回到了國際賽場上。米切爾希望奧康納能夠首發,並表示他與2013年對陣英國和愛爾蘭獅隊時掙扎的那個球員有很大的不同。

米切爾補充說:"儘管詹姆斯在2013年對陣英國和愛爾蘭獅隊時打了10號,但我不認為他是一個10號,"。

"我認為這可能表明了他在場外作為一名球員和一個人的處境--他首先考慮的是自己,然後試圖為他人服務,而作為一名10號球員,這必須是另一種方式。

"看到詹姆斯和他所經歷的旅程,這很了不起。他經常談到這個問題,而且很坦率。他在場外的變化,我們已經看到轉移到了球場上,這就是為什麼我相信現在他是一個真正的10號。

"但需要有下一代的10號球員出現。他們就在那裡,但我不知道他們是否已經準備好與英格蘭隊交手了。

"我認為我們可以在明年的世界盃上使用Quade和James,但當然到2027年,我們需要年輕一代真正地站起來。

無論誰開始擔任飛人,傑出的中鋒薩穆-凱雷維從日本回來都是對小袋鼠隊的一個重大推動。

橄欖球聯盟總是習慣於在擁擠的澳大利亞體育景觀中爭奪自己的位置,近年來,橄欖球聯盟在場內和場外都經歷了一段艱難的時期。

在經歷了一段動盪時期後,出現了希望的跡象,澳大利亞將在2025年主辦英國和愛爾蘭獅隊,然後是兩屆橄欖球世界盃;這些寶貴的生命線可以振興這個旗幟鮮明的橄欖球國家。

據米切爾說,雷尼已經在一定程度上將小袋鼠隊與公眾重新聯繫起來。

"他補充說:"我們處於一個相當艱難的市場,有橄欖球聯盟、美國橄欖球聯盟和板球,有一段時間有一些被剝奪了權利的支持者。

"我認為戴夫-雷尼在連接球員群體和基層民眾方面做得非常好。他是一個非常冷靜和穩定的人,他得到了球員們的支持,在球隊裡有一種真正的團結和信仰感。

"但是,雖然我們目前在小袋鼠隊周圍有很多支持,但這可能會隨着系列賽的失敗而改變。"

"用世界盃來評判我 "是克萊夫-伍德沃德在20世紀90年代執教英格蘭隊時的一句耳熟能詳的話--這表明他長期以來一直關注每四年一次的表演賽。

但現在似乎比以往任何時候都更多的教練--尤其是那些為結果而掙扎的教練--都在談論為2023年法國世界盃 "建設 "和 "發展",儘管事實上世界盃充滿了變數,而且只能由一支球隊贏得。

當法國支持者在大滿貫勝利後在聖丹尼斯跳舞的時候,世界盃肯定是他們心中最遙遠的事情。

在溫順的2022年六國賽之後,橄欖球聯盟在一份備受球迷和專家嘲笑的聲明中,用華麗的語言談論了球隊的 "堅實進步"。

考慮到這一點,現在是英格蘭隊提供穩定結果的時候了。在澳大利亞取得系列賽的勝利將在很大程度上說服持懷疑態度的英格蘭橄欖球公眾,使他們相信 "2023計劃 "仍在穩步進行。

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When England last toured Australia in 2016, head coach Eddie Jones had just steered his side to a first Grand Slam in 13 years, re-energising a group of players who had crashed out of the Rugby World Cup at the pool stages a few months earlier.

On the pitch, Jones was decisive. Off it, he was full of mischief, running rings around opposite number Michael Cheika.

With his players, the media and the English rugby public, Jones was walking on water.

Six years on, the landscape looks very different.

There have been highs since 2016 - most notably the run to the 2019 World Cup final - but twice in recent seasons Jones' position has been questioned after poor Six Nations campaigns.

Since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, England have played nine away matches, losing five.

So what can England supporters expect from their three-Test tour? What kind of Australia lie in wait? Are the Wallabies on the up, or will Jones improve on his perfect 8-0 win record against his homeland?

Jones' sparring with former Randwick team-mate Cheika was an entertaining sub-plot of the 2016 tour. Jones took every opportunity to foster a siege mentality, take the pressure off his players, and get under the skin of the gregarious Cheika.

Jones' antics on that tour are the stuff of legend: walking out of a referee's meeting after one minute, railing against the Australia media for their coverage, and inviting NRL great Andrew Johns to England training among his many tricks.

"I think what Eddie in 2016 was a masterstroke," former Australia wing Drew Mitchell told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

"From where England were post-2015, what he did was deflect all the attention from the players and where they were at, and put it on him versus Michael Cheika."

Fittingly it was Jones and England who ushered in the end of Cheika's reign with a 40-16 hammering of the Wallabies in the 2019 World Cup quarter-final in Oita.

Cheika's replacement - the less volatile Kiwi Dave Rennie - is unlikely to engage as willingly with the mind games.

Owen Farrell has been Jones' go-to man as captain since replacing Dylan Hartley in 2018, and did a brilliant job at the World Cup a year later.

However, the Saracens man has struggled to make his customary mark on the Test arena of late, not helped by injuries which curtailed his 2021 autumn campaign and ruled him out of the Six Nations the following spring.

When fit, Farrell has been Jones' choice, and was backed to retain the captaincy as recently as January.

Now the noises are that Farrell is set for a return to the ranks, with Courtney Lawes likely to retain the armband he took at the back end of the Six Nations.

Former England wing Ugo Monye says that could get more out of Farrell - as as well as fly-half Marcus Smith.

"I want the very best of Owen Farrell, because when we get the very best of Owen Farrell he is one of the best in the world," Monye told Rugby Union Weekly.

"If we do get a fully firing Owen Farrell with Marcus Smith, who is on fire at the moment, I am so confident about what this side can achieve not just this summer but over the next year and a half."

But who will lead England at the World Cup in France next year, when Lawes will be 34? Will one of Ellis Genge, Tom Curry or Maro Itoje emerge as a long-term skipper?

Back to the future at 10

While Smith is set to start at fly-half for England, with Farrell alongside him at inside centre, Rennie's options at 10 boil down to two familiar figures.

Quade Cooper, 34, and James O'Connor, 31, made their debuts in 2008, when England full-back Freddie Steward was seven.

Both have had chequered careers and have done superbly to force their way back into international contention. Mitchell expects O'Connor to start, and says he is a vastly different player to the one who struggled against the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

"Even though James played 10 against the British and Irish Lions in 2013, I don't think he was a 10," Mitchell added.

"I think that was probably indicative of where he was at off the field as a player and a person - he was looking for himself first then trying to serve others, and as a 10 it's got to be the other way around.

"It's been remarkable seeing James and the journey he has been on. He speaks about it a lot and quite openly. The change he has had off the field we have seen transfer onto the field, which is why I believe now he is a bona-fide 10.

"But there needs to be that next generation of 10s coming through. They are there, but I just don't know if they are necessarily ready to be thrown in against England just yet.

"I think we could probably get away with Quade and James for next year's World Cup, but certainly by 2027 we need that younger generation to really step up."

Whoever starts at fly-half, the return of the outstanding centre Samu Kerevi from Japan is a major boost to the Wallabies.

Always accustomed to scrapping for its place in the crowded Australian sporting landscape, rugby union has endured a torrid time down under in recent years, both on and off the pitch.

After a turbulent period, there are signs of hope, with Australia set to host the British and Irish Lions in 2025 followed by two Rugby World Cups; precious lifelines that could revive the flagging rugby nation.

According to Mitchell, Rennie has gone some way to reconnecting the Wallabies with the public.

"We are in a pretty tough market with rugby league, AFL and cricket, and there has been some disenfranchised supporters for a little while now," he added.

"I think Dave Rennie has done a really good job in connecting the playing group with the grassroots. He is a really calm and settled kind of character, he has the buy-in from the players and there is a real sense of togetherness and belief in the squad.

"But while we have plenty of support around the Wallabies at the moment, that can change with a series loss."

"Judge me on the World Cup" was a familiar refrain from Clive Woodward when he was coaching England in the 1990s - suggesting a long-standing focus with the showpiece every four years.

But it seems more than ever that coaches - especially those struggling for results - are talking about "building" and "developing" for France 2023, despite the fact a World Cup is riddled with variables and can only be won by one team.

The World Cup was certainly the furthest thing from French supporters' minds as they danced the night away in St Denis following the Grand Slam triumph.

After the meek 2022 Six Nations, the Rugby Football Union spoke in glowing terms about the team's "solid progress" in a statement much derided by fans and pundits alike.

With this in mind, it is time for England to deliver consistent results. A series win in Australia would go a long way to convincing a sceptical English rugby public that 'Project 2023' remains firmly on track. • None Find out what inspired the man who wrote Line of Duty • None But how do they fry with air? Greg Foot investigates whether air fryers live up to the hype or overpromise

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