Mike Catt has warned England not to get above themselves as they head into Saturday’s Cook Cup showdown against Australia with the tag of favourites.
The Wallabies arrive at Twickenham on the back of a 33-6 hammering from France and without four of their leading players, including David Pocock who was ruled out yesterday with a calf strain.
England opened their QBE autumn international campaign with a seven-try 54-12 victory over Fiji but they also failed to convert a number of opportunities.
While England have talked about an anticipated Australian backlash, Catt’s focus has been on the need to improve and sharpen their accuracy.
“You never under-estimate the Australians,” said Catt, England’s skills coach. “I have had some fantastic games against them. It is always a humdinger and their tour will get back on track if they beat England.
“This is their next opportunity and we need to make sure we get our bit right.
“We have to build on what we did last week. We wanted to play a particular way and we did that but we have to make sure we don’t get above ourselves.
“We have to make sure everything is composed and we are doing the right things at the right time. We won’t get as much ball as we did last week and we will probably only get one or two opportunities, so we have to make sure we capitalise on them.”
Pocock had been set for a return to action at Twickenham after recovering from a knee injury, only to suffer the calf problem that will rule him out of action for at least another week.
In theory, Pocock’s absence will help England secure the quick ball they want for Toby Flood and Alex Goode to release the back division, but Catt is wary of Michael Hooper’s influence.
“Pocock is a world-class seven, he is up there with (New Zealand’s) Richie McCaw as the best in the world,” said Catt.
“But don’t underestimate Hooper, who may not have that physical presence that Pocock has but he is on the ball all the time, he has an incredible work rate.
“He is a very good ball-carrier too. He is a substitute for Pocock I suppose but I have addressed the boys already and told them ‘stop him’.”
Australia will also be without lock Kane Douglas, who has hurt his knee, while Quade Cooper, Will Genia and James O’Connor all failed to make the tour through injury.
Saracens wing Chris Ashton has replaced Ugo Monye in England’s 23-man squad.
Ashton was suspended for England’s 54-12 victory over Fiji last weekend but he has been recalled to face the Wallabies, against whom he has scored three tries in three Tests. The inclusion of Ashton is the only change to the match-day squad made by head coach Stuart Lancaster, who names his side tomorrow.
Wales lock Alun-Wyn Jones (shoulder) and flanker Josh Turnbull (knee ligaments) will take no further part in their autumn series, which continues on Friday against Samoa.