Preview: England v Australia

It is all on the line on Saturday in Oita, win or go home for both England and Australia, and neither side are going to die wondering.

It is all on the line on Saturday in Oita, win or go home for both England and Australia, and neither side are going to die wondering.

Startling team selections have dominated the agenda for the latest edition of an age-old rivalry.

These two old Randwick teammates Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika have been killing each other with kindness this week in public.

But behind closed doors you can be sure they have been ruthlessly plotting the other’s demise.

Jones has had the wood on his old mate in recent times, winning six from six over the Wallabies since taking over the Red Rose.

And this week he has gone back to his tried and tested for the biggest game of his tenure, skipper Owen Farrell returns to the No.10 shirt and the in-form George Ford slides to the bench.

That reunites Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade in midfield, the combination that looked so impressive in this year’s Guinness Six Nations.

But the big calls do not stop there, Mako Vunipola – with less than an hour’s rugby under his belt since May – returns to start in the front row and Courtney Lawes replaces George Kruis in the second.

Australia meanwhile have put their faith in a 19-year-old Test rookie who only made his Wallaby bow two weeks ago in the pool stages.

Jordan Petaia is a star on the rise, but something of a selection punt from Cheika while his ever-changing cast of half-backs sees Will Genia and Christian Leali’ifano come together for only the second time in their Test careers.

There is intrigue wherever you look, not least the back-row battle between the hardened veterans of Michael Hooper and David Pocock against the rising stars of Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.

England’s impressive form through the pool stages and their fine recent record over the Wallabies will mean they start as favourites on Saturday afternoon.

But Australia are a tournament team, capable of the sublime when the mood takes them as the All Blacks found out to their cost in Perth back in August.

England v Australia, World Cup quarter-final, Oita, Saturday October 19, Kick Off at 8:15AM (BST)

Eddie Jones on his 6-0 winning record against Australia since taking over with England:

“The great thing about the World Cup is that each game is a game in itself so whatever you’ve done in the past doesn’t really effect what you are going to do on Saturday.

“We know about Australia, they are a great tournament side. I think ‘Cheik’ (Australia coach Michael Cheika) has done a really good job. I’m proud of the job he does. He’s a good old mate of mine and there will be a bloke in the sky (the late Jeff Sayle of Randwick) who will be quite excited about Michael and I coaching against each other this week. I’m sure he’s having a few beers next to St Peter now looking at the situation.

Jones on his ‘Kamikaze kids’ Sam Underhill and Tom Curry facing David Pocock and Michael Hooper:

“It’s going to be a great contest. Pocock has probably, over the last 10 years, been the foremost number seven in the world.

“Hooper is a massively important player for Australia. He’s a link player, takes the ball forward a lot once they get inside the opposition’s 22. He’s obviously a key leader for the team but our two young boys are just getting better every game.

“Curry has improved his lineout jumping immensely over the last six or eight weeks, Underhill’s probably the most combative seven (openside flanker) I’ve seen for a long time. It’s just going to be a battle at the breakdown which it always is between the six and seven.”

Australian playmaker Matt Toomua on sharing his knowledge of his former teammates at English club Leicester Tigers:

“I know all their weaknesses luckily and I have been telling everyone. I will list them now for you if you want. Manu (Tuilagi) is a terrible snooker player, George Ford never pays for a beer, Ben Youngs isn’t even the best rugby player in his family, let alone the country. The chicken, Jonny May, very weird and Dan Cole doesn’t have a personality.

Aged just 19 years 218 days on Saturday, Jordan Petaia becomes the second youngest player ever to appear in a Rugby World Cup knockout match.

After a cameo off the bench and a start on the wing in the pool stages, Cheika has picked his biggest game to thrust the Queensland Red into his preferred position of outside centre.

Up against him is another man with the spotlight on him.

Henry Slade has not started a rugby match since the Premiership final back in June after an injury disrupted warm-up campaign.

Two supremely gifted all-round footballers go head to head, both will be looking to profit from the space created by the monstrous figures of Samu Kerevi and Manu Tuilagi inside them.

England: 15 Elliot Daly; 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Jonny May; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler; 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes; 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Billy Vunipola

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 George Ford, 23 Jonathan Joseph

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Will Genia; 1 Scott Sio, 2 Tolu Latu, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 4 Izack Rodda, 5 Rory Arnold, 6 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 8 Isa Naisarani

Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 James O’Connor