If the Six Nations win followed by England’s pre-tour hit out against Wales proved anything, it was that under Eddie Jones this new look English side is far cry from the one that looked rudderless at the 2015 World Cup.
And they are getting better individually and collectively as the new coaching regime gets into full gear.
Does this mean they will beat the Wallabies at home to win the series?
No it doesn’t, but it does mean that the result it is not close to a foregone conclusion either as some might believe.
The addition of the exemplary breakdown knowledge and skills of George Smith, and attacking insights of Glen Ella being injected into the coaching staff should not be underestimated.
Even if the fluency of England’s backline distribution was not always there against Wales in their recent pre-tour match with a somewhat experimental backline it must be said, it would be folly to think the influence of the new coaches will not make their mark by the time the Wallabies meet England in the first Test.
Their combined knowledge of Australian rugby, its players and culture, will also be a valuable asset in breaking down Australia’s strengths and weaknesses and how to target them.
I mean, how much more confident would we all be of a 3-0 series win to the Wallabies if they came with an all-English coaching crew?
Whether you love or loath the outspoken mischievous character that is Eddie Jones, he is an excellent tactician, and dangerous opponent working for and/or against teams he has been involved with in a coaching capacity – Just ask the Spring Boks.
Eddie Jones was there in the South Africa’s last world cup victory in 2007 as a tactical advisor, then subsequently masterminded their most humiliating defeat at the hands of Japan at the 2015 World Cup.
The Wallabies will be hoping they don’t share the same fate, and this is a revitalised England, not an aspiring Japan that was given about as much chance against the Boks as an injured fly against a praying mantis.
Furthermore, and with the greatest respect to Michael Cheika who has done a wonderful job in resurrecting the Wallabies and will continue to do so I’m sure, Eddie Jones is the vastly more experienced combatant at international level, or indeed Stuart Lancaster for that matter.
The personnel changes in both staff and players Eddie Jones has made, England’s recent successes, and the clear progression of the English team since their forgettable World Cup campaign, is telling.
They have been unbeaten since Eddie Jones took charge.
Jones has also stolen Bath’s vaunted scrum and forward coach Neal Hatley to get the English scrum back to where it used to be as powerful force. The English set piece was a shadow of its former self at the World Cup, and this simply will not do in the culture of English union.
Hatley was born in England, and not surprisingly, began his life playing football, but when his family moved to East London in South Africa when he was 15 years old, he had little choice but to play rugby. At that at that time, his newly adopted school didn’t even have a football team. It was there he learned the dark arts of being a prop in the 15-man game.
Now at age 46, Hatley has gained a considerable reputation as a forwards and scrum coach.
Two head coaching offers have come from South Africa in the last twelve months to lure him back there which gives you an indication of how highly he is rated.
Bath head coach Mike Ford is disappointed to lose him, saying Hatley puts in very long hours with the players, and is a real stickler for technical detail not only in the scrum, but in defence and attack.
It could become an interesting battle up front this Test series after Australia’s embarrassing dominance of their pack at the scrum at the World Cup.
Ironically, it is England’s tight five who have a point to prove this time round with a new look side, but one that naturally features some familiar and experienced Test names who did not suffer the blunt blade of the chopping block in the fallout of England’s ignominious World Cup campaign.
England certainly have the players in their tight five to get back to where they used to be.
After all, scrum prowess has long been in English rugby’s DNA.
It has not suddenly just vanished.