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International Rugby: Wallabies v England third Test preview

The Wallabies and England go head-to-head in the Test series decider on Saturday and both camps have selection issues heading into the big game.

After two enthralling Tests between the old enemies, the series will come down to a decider at the Sydney Cricket Ground and it is a tough one to call.

The Wallabies got the series off to a fine start with a narrow 30-28 win in Perth, but England came fighting back in Brisbane to level the series.

Eddie Jones’ side picked up a 25-17 victory at Suncorp Stadium and will be out to wrap up another series win down under after winning 3-0 on their last visit.

The biggest worry for Wallabies coach Rennie will be what kind of side he will be able to put out.

The injury list has grown following the defeat on Saturday night and it looks as though a patched-up side will have to take to the pitch in the decider. But it is not all rosy in the England camp either with one or two players ruled out.

There is always lots on the line when Australia and England clash, so let’s take a look at both sides as the big game fast approaches.

What: Wallabies v England
Where: SCG, Sydney
When: 19:55, Saturday 16th July 2022
How to watch: Channel 9
Odds: Wallabies 8/13, England 13/10

Australia have been forced to deal with adversity since the opening Test and have showed great character to push England hard in both matches. They will need to do the same again if they are to come out on top at the SCG.

Before the opening Test Quade Cooper picked up a calf issue in the warm-up and was ruled out of the game and the injury situation has not improved since then. In fact it has got much worse.

Heading into the weekend’s action there are big doubts over whether Cadeyrn Neville will be able to feature after he suffered a knee injury.

The second-rower is still awaiting scans following concerns he has a MCL injury. If ruled out then it will be yet another blow for Rennie.

Izack Rodda (foot), Jed Holloway (calf) and Ned Hanigan (knee) are all missing through injury while Darcy Swain sits out through suspension.

It is not all bad news for the Wallabies though as Allan Alaalatoa is back available after completing the new 12-day concussion stand-down protocol and is set to return to the side.

Ex-Queensland Reds lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto has also joined up with the squad to provide cover for injuries and has impressed with his attitude in training.

The Wallabies are also hoping to benefit from powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou having more game-time under his belt.

Tupou returned to the side in the second Test following a two-month absence with a calf injury. It is no surprise his performance in the 25-17 defeat was not at the standards expected of him but the run-out will have done him the world of good.

His game should be at the next level in Sydney and he will be key to Australia’s chances of getting the win.

"With 50 minutes of footy on board now, there's no doubt he'll be in a better place Saturday night,” assistant coach Dan McKellar told reporters. "It's good to have two quality tighthead props back available to help share the workload."

England have not been without their own issues on the tour. Flanker Tom Curry picked up a concussion in the first Test and could play no further part in the series.

The same fate has now fallen on a couple more England players. Lock Maro Itoje and flanker Sam Underhill both suffered concussions in their victory in Brisbane.

The England camp have confirmed both players are out of the third Test and they will not be calling players in as replacements. Meaning coach Jones will have to go with what he has got.

He does have some good options as well. Ollie Chessum and Lewis Ludlam both started on the bench in the second Test and could step into the side.

England have also been boosted by the news that Jack Willis has recovered from a rib injury and is available again. He is another back-row option for Jones.

It remains to be seen how England will set-up and what tactics they will adopt but scrum-half Danny Care gave a good indication when addressing the media this week.

"There are a few things being tweaked at the moment to try and find the perfect gameplan for this team," Care told reporters.
"The first 20 minutes of the second Test is how we want to play, in terms of being confrontational and physical, but then forcing pressure on the opposition through a good tactical kicking game.
"In the second Test, we took rugby back to its finest form of running hard, winning collisions, winning gain-line and playing quickly where the space was."

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