England head coach Eddie Jones could unleash his new exciting backline partnership of Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell against Australia as he names team for Saturday’s clash on Thursday
- Marcus Smith came off the bench to devastating effect in the thrashing of Tonga
- The fly-half has made a compelling case to be included in a full-strength line-up
- Owen Farrell has been cleared to feature in the second of three autumn Tests
England’s new back-line vision of Marcus Smith at fly-half and captain Owen Farrell at inside centre could become a reality on Thursday, when Eddie Jones names his side to face Australia.
Once Farrell was cleared to feature in the second of three autumn Tests at Twickenham, it was inevitable that he would return to the starting XV. The only question is where he is picked to lead the side, rather than if he will be selected.
On Wednesday night, the indications were that Jones was preparing to unleash Smith and Farrell together in a new 10-12 alliance. This is the combination which the head coach had spoken about wanting to try out, before Smith was hampered by a leg injury and Farrell was withdrawn from the Tonga game due to a Covid scare, which was eventually ruled to have been a false positive.
Marcus Smith (above) has made a compelling case to be included in a full-strength line-up
Last weekend, Smith came off the bench to devastating effect, as the Harlequins sensation ignited a second-half onslaught by England, who ended up beating their Pacific island opponents 69-3.
They will face a much sterner challenge against the Wallabies but Smith has made a compelling case to be included in a full-strength line-up, after inspiring Quins’ title triumph, making his Test debut and earning a Lions tour call-up.
If Jones does pick the 22-year-old alongside Farrell, it will lead to a reshuffle in midfield. Henry Slade was named man of the match against Tonga and Manu Tuilagi was impressive too. Neither centre deserves to be left out but something has to give. It will be a tight call at 13.
Smith is set to line up with Owen Farrell against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday
Elsewhere, there are unlikely to be wholesale changes, although Max Malins could come into the reckoning for a back-three place and Trevor Davison or Bevan Rodd will understudy Ellis Genge on the bench.
Rookie Sale prop Rodd was called into the squad to replace Joe Marler, who is isolating at home after testing positive for Covid. His case led to the squad and staff members having extra PCR tests before they received the all-clear yesterday.
Australia are in danger of facing England without their two leading tightheads, Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa, who both suffered head knocks in the defeat against Scotland. The Wallabies may be forced to field veteran loosehead James Slipper on the other side of the front row.
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