Four Nations Preview – Australia vs England

Australia vs England

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Sunday 2 November, 4pm (AEDST)

Melbourne in springtime. It’s when the nation’s focus turns to the southern capital for some world’s best horse racing action. But this Sunday, post-Derby Day and pre-Melbourne Cup, some of Rugby League’s finest thoroughbreds with take to the turf at AAMI Park with plenty on the line.

The Australians, including Rabbitohs favourites Greg Inglis and Dylan Walker, have their backs against the wall. Due to last Saturday’s performance against the Kiwis, a loss will see them miss out on any chance to qualify for the Four Nations Final. A win, however, keeps their and all Australians’ hopes alive with a match up the following weekend against Toa Samoa standing in their way of another appearance in a Final at a major tournament.

England will boast our Rabbitohs big boppers, George Burgess and brother Thomas Burgess. They turned the engines over last Saturday against Samoa after some lengthy premiership celebrations, and this Sunday they will be primed to take on what some have described as an under-sized Australian pack. A win for England means they will go a long way to qualifying for the Four Nations Final, and in turn cast the Australians aside from the tournament on their home turf.

This will be an interesting one for Rabbitoh Members to watch, hoping the Burgii can do damage through the middle, and the Ferraris in the form of Inglis and Walker can carve up out wide.

Who to Watch

For the Kangaroos, it will be Dylan Walker. He was on fire last week in the first forty minutes playing in his customary position of centre. He tackled anything that moved, saving a couple of tries in the process. Yet he saw no ball. The only ball he saw in the second half whilst playing fullback were two towering, floating, Shaun Johnson bombs, which were described as one of the modern eras greatest fullbacks, Darren Lockyer, as “YUCK”! ‘D-Walkz’ will be ready and raring this Sunday, so watch out Michael Shenton and Kallum Watkins, because as we saw throughout the 2014 season, Dylan can pop up anywhere and carve up opposition defensive lines with ease.

Walker will be ready to make the most of any opportunities that come his way this week, but a lot of that will be dependent on whether the Aussie forward pack can get over the top of the Poms. Enter George Burgess. At 194cm and 120kg, Burgess has proven that he deserves his place amongst the game’s elite front rowers and it will be up to him and front row partners James Graham and Thomas Burgess to gain the expected ascendency. The Aussies have again only picked one genuine prop forward in their squad and will rely on edge back rowers to take up the challenge in the middle of the field.

Danger Signs

As mentioned, the Aussies struggled last week with only one genuine front rower in the side, choosing to leave the only other genuine front rower in the squad, David Klemmer, on the sidelines. Coach Tim Sheens has done so again this week and will need to make sure his forward pack options are fired up and ready to take the challenge head on. If they don’t, it’s goodnight for the Four Nations in 2014.

The challenge is similar for the English. Their forward pack, and in particular the front row, will need to make sure they dominate as everyone expects, or else the Aussies have more than enough firepower out wide to punish them. Rabbitohs Members will be looking no further than Inglis and Walker to know what damage can be done if the Australian backs get their fair share of ball in decent field position.

Our Prediction

This is a very close one to call, but with the Aussies' lives in the Four Nations depending on a win in this game, then that should be enough to fire the forwards up and sneak home with a win by two points.

How to Watch

This match will be broadcast in Australia on the Nine Network from 4pm Sunday AEDST. Check your local guides for full broadcast details.