Talking points ahead of England’s series decider against Australia

England and Australia clash in a series decider on Saturday in what is likely to be the last Test played at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Here the PA news agency examines five talking points leading into a clash that will see the newly-created Ella-Mobbs Cup lifted for the first time.

Inspired by Origin

It may be a rival code but a compelling State of Origin decider on Wednesday caused ripples of excitement throughout England’s squad, who are now intent on propelling union to similar heights of high-intensity entertainment.

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Owen Farrell and Jamie George have referenced Queensland’s extraordinary victory over New South Wales as they look to finish the season with a series triumph over the Wallabies.

The need for speed

If England and Australia are able to deliver a high-octane classic along Origin lines it will be in defiance of union’s current direction of travel of decreasing ball-in-play time, with overuse of the TMO and hard-line refereeing of high tackles among the causes.

Eddie Jones intends organising leading coaches, players and referees into a group to drive change in the hope of delivering a better spectacle in time for next year’s World Cup.

Whinging Aussies

Australia’s complaints over the niggle brought by England in the first two Tests have been firmly rejected, but the Wallabies do have a point. Jonny Hill repeatedly goaded Darcy Swain until the lock’s fuse eventually blew and he was sent off for a head butt.

And Ellis Genge roughing up Nic White and taunting Michael Hooper were acts that trod a fine line. England forwards coach Richard Cockerill believes the series has been “tame” so far, but the hosts say they have been steeling themselves for more provocation.

Finishing with a bang

There has been no mention of fatigue by England as they reach the final match of a long year that for several frontline players dates back to the Lions tour of South Africa. “We’re in really good nick,” said Jones as he revealed that all training is completed by midday, meaning the players have the afternoons to “recover, relax and regenerate”.

Back in the familiar surroundings of Coogee with his family home in Randwick nearby, Jones was full of insight and humour as he held court during Thursday’s team announcement. And his belief in England’s direction is evident: “I really like the way this team is developing.”

Care ousts JVP

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It was trademark Jones to drop a young player a week after he had excelled and that is the fate that has befallen Jack van Poortvliet, the 21-year-old scrum-half who produced a full debut of remarkable maturity in Brisbane.

His basics were rock solid, his delivery razor sharp and he exploit gaps when they appeared. Danny Care comes in as his replacement because Jones believes the veteran Harlequin is better placed to exploit the quick ball he is expecting early on in Sydney, but is as much about the head coach’s careful management of young players.

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