Toby Flood: Tackling Australia's terrifying trio is key to putting last week's defeat behind us
You realise you can't give their back three cheap ball or anything they can feed off
Friday 12 November 2010
Six days on from our opening game in the autumn series of Investec internationals at Twickenham and the disappointment and frustration of the 26-16 defeat against New Zealand still burns. To know that you haven't given your best as a team is really difficult to deal with. We want to be successful as an England team and if we are going to do that we can't be giving away these opportunities and making the kind of mistakes we did.
As a group, we were devastated but the positive thing is that we get the chance to put it right tomorrow, when Australia come to Twickenham. We get to play a side that we beat last time out in Sydney in June, and who beat the All Blacks in Hong Kong two weeks ago. We have to raise our standard and the guys will need to be right on their mettle because the Wallabies are playing some great stuff at the moment.
What do we need to put right from last week? Well, defensively, we need to organise ourselves quicker, and we probably need to be more pragmatic in how we defend. We also need to look at our width in defence. We were too tight at times against New Zealand.
With the backs that Australia have, and the ability they have got to move the ball around the park, we have got to make sure we don't get exposed on the edges by their back three. The threat they pose right across the field – in terms of their dangerous runners and their ability to expose individuals – is second to none. Their back three (and, to be honest, most of their back line) have the ability to beat you one on one and cause huge issues around the park.
James O'Connor, Australia's right wing, is a young guy – just 20 years old – but he looks like a veteran of 50-odd caps. He has got the awareness and the spatial recognition of someone who has been playing Test matches for a long, long time. Kurtley Beale, their full-back, has come on to a lot of people's radar recently but we have known about him for a long time. He has always been a standout performer in my eyes.
Those two guys are extremely dangerous, and so is their left winger, Drew Mitchell. He is someone who is strong and who carries really well. He's used a lot by Australia in terms of getting on the front foot. You look at that back three and you realise you can't give them cheap ball, or anything they can feed off.
I'm sure Australia will feel they have a score to settle after losing the second Test against us in Sydney. They will want to lay down a mark and right the wrongs of losing that game on home soil. At the same time, we realise that we need to go out and make a statement after last weekend because I think there was a lot of humbling, a lot of hurt pride, at what happened.
If you remember, my Leicester clubmate and half-back partner Ben Youngs scored that wonder try in Sydney. That's the way he plays – from his instincts – and I'm sure Australia will be very conscious of his threat from the breakdown this time. They will try to make sure he doesn't get that much space again, so he will have to look for other ways to break them down. He certainly has the ability to do that because, in terms of his development, he has got better and better this year with his decision-making and all that sort of stuff.
Who is the better No 9: Ben Youngs or Andy Carroll? I am a Newcastle United fan but I'm going to say Ben Youngs – because I play with him and also because he has been capped.
Having said that, Andy Carroll is looking pretty dangerous at the moment. One of the boys showed me an article the other day saying that he was earmarked as the new Alan Shearer at No 9 for the England football team, with his physicality and his similarity to Emile Heskey, so it looks like he might be the guy to fill that role in the future.
I am going to go with Ben Youngs at the moment, but if Andy Carroll gets 100-odd caps and scores 80-odd goals for England, I might be eating my words.
Cole's a quiet man but when he talks, it's powerful stuff
I'm glad to say that none of my team-mates have done anything like buy a can of fake tan as a joke after the false claims of Dan Cole – my house-mate, room-mate and Leicester team-mate – that were mentioned in this column a week ago. He has really been pushing the fake tan thing but I think most people realise that Dan is very limited in his sense of humour. He's got a couple of gags that he recycles over and over.
Dan's the kind of guy who doesn't really say much but we had a couple of meetings after the game last weekend and I have to say he spoke really well. He was hurting as much as anyone and he put it across well – saying that if we want to reach our goals and achieve what we want, we can't accept ifs and buts, and that what we do in training has to come through into the Test arena. All of us buy into that, and when someone who doesn't talk very much speaks passionately about something like that the rest of the guys sit up and listen.
A couple of people have asked if I saw Dan's expression when we were facing up to the haka last week. I was standing along from him at the time, facing the same way, so no I didn't see it. I can easily imagine it, though.
It's been described to me as a bit of a sneer, or a grimace. To be honest, he looks like that every morning. There's no real difference.
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