England captain Courtney Lawes says patience is required as they continue to rebuild ahead of the World Cup
Eddie Jones has undertaken a radical revamp of the back line for the attempt to keep the series alive at Suncorp Stadium by giving debuts to centre Guy Porter and wing Tommy Freeman, as well as a first start to scrum Jack van Poortvliet.
The fourth and final change to the side dispatched 30-28 in Perth sees Sam Underhill replace Tom Curry, whose tour has been ended by concussion.
Jones hopes Porter and Freeman, who have been picked at the expense of Joe Marchant and Joe Cokanasiga, will provide the ball-carrying threat in midfield and finishing expertise out wide that were missing from the first Test.
England’s head coach has risked the wrath of fans by continuing to identify France 2023 as the ultimate aim, even as his team bid to avoid crashing to a series defeat in a match he describes as “the perfect practice for the World Cup”.
Lawes insists senior red rose players fully support the direction of travel, despite Jones’ scattergun approach to selection, while stressing that progress will take time.
“Just because we have a new team and a new strategy, and are trying to find our DNA as a team, because we’ve got so many new players doesn’t mean that we don’t feel like we’re good enough to beat Australia. We certainly do,” England’s captain said.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we win the series. But at the same time, yes, we’ve had the conversation that we’re making these changes for a reason.
“We think it will open up our potential and we’ll be a better team for it. Maybe not now, it’s going to take time to get there and we are going to have patience.
“We are going to go through ups and downs, that’s for sure. But as long as we’re building towards an end product which is in the forefront of our minds, that is the main thing for us.
“Off the field we’re as tight a team as I’ve ever been a part of in an England jersey.
“That is 100 per cent genuine. Because of that we’re all on the same page.
“We have full confidence that we’re going to go out and win this weekend.
“But we also understand that we’re going to make some mistakes, we’re going to have to tweak some things, we’re going to have to find some things out about ourselves and we’re going to have to keep on improving week on week.”
“The performance is more important for us. Definitely. I’m taking nothing away from the win because we’d absolutely love to win, but developing as a team and taking us in the right direction is definitely at the forefront of our minds.”
England want Porter to bring power to the midfield, thereby reprising a role he has performed with success for Leicester during their march to the Premiership title this season.
The 25-year-old spent his early years in London before moving to Australia where he came through the Wallabies’ academy system and gained a contract for the Brumbies, staying with the Super Rugby team until agreeing to join Leicester in 2020.
Freeman has been an explosive force for Northampton, using his 6ft 2ins and 16st frame to electric effect in the back three. Jones’ hope is that both players will go hunting for the ball.
“Guy has had to struggle to get to the top. His form consistently for Leicester was high class,” Jones said.
“He plays a good, physical game and against Australia – who have a big back line – we need to be physical.
“Tommy’s a good rugby player. He’s got a good feel for the game. We missed a couple of opportunities on Saturday and he’s the sort of guy who could take those sort of opportunities.”