2022-06-28 05:37:00

The Wallabies are preparing to be without Taniela Tupou for their opening Test of the year against England on Saturday in Perth, with James Slipper set to jump back on the tight-head side of the scrum as he returns to the city it all started.

It was back in 2010 that Slipper came off the bench to make his debut against England at Subiaco Oval.

Slipper, playing as the Wallabies’ lone prop replacement, had a tough introduction at the scrum against Dan Cole and Steve Thompson.

“It wasn’t a great night for me that night,” he admits. 

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James Slipper in action against England during his debut Test season in 2010. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

While the Wallabies won 27-17, Slipper says they wouldn’t be so fortunate if the set-piece suffered the same fate.

Twelve years on Slipper says because the game has turned into a “big power” and “big set-piece” game, the Wallabies have to match England up front to stand a chance of snapping their eight-match losing run to Eddie Jones’ coached England side.

“It’s very hard to win a game for your country without a functioning set piece,” Slipper said.

“In all seriousness, England back themselves in that area, and they have historically been very strong in the set-piece area, so we’re going to have to be on our game to not only compete with them but try and get over them. 

“That’s our goal. 

“It’s one thing saying it, another doing it, so we’re going to have to make sure we roll up the sleeves and whoever gets given the jersey goes there and does a job.”

While the Wallabies have four strong props in their ranks, their world class option in Tupou is expected to miss the first Test.

“He’s touch and go,” Slipper confirmed. 

His absence is a colossal one.

Taniela Tupou is in doubt for the first Test. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Not since the 2015 World Cup – the last time Australia beat England – have the Wallabies had a dominant set-piece against their great rivals, and that was the exception.

England believe they can take it to the Wallabies in the area and without Tupou, as well as Alaalatoa, last November they did.

With Slipper forced to return to the tight-head side because of concussions to Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa, the Wallabies were blown off the park and seldom got into England’s attacking zone during their 32-15 defeat.

“It’s not about proving them (England) wrong,” Slipper said. “It’s about the way we want to play the game. 

“We talk internally about what’s important for us. At no stage do I make it personal.

“We were really disappointed with our performance last year on the spring tour and the amount of mistakes we made, and I’ll go back to it – our set-piece wasn’t great, they really put us under a lot of pressure.”

Slipper has been training on the tight-head side should Tupou be scratched.

James Slipper says rugby is increasingly a “power game” and the set-piece is more important in the modern game. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

The injury-forced move would see Angus Bell start alongside Alaalatoa, with Scott Sio firming for a recall after his best season for the Brumbies since 2015.

Reflecting on his whirlwind journey back to Perth against England, Slipper said rugby was more and more like a game of chess.

“I probably prefer the game with a bit more ball in play,” he said. 

“The lads are getting pretty big these days. It’s a big power game at the moment. 

“Defences are so good now and back in the day defence was optional, it felt. 

“It’s a tough game. 

“It’s a game of chess and it’s a game of pressure really. The team that handles pressure the best, will most likely win.”

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Owen Farrell scored 66 points against the Wallabies in three Tests in 2016 to destroy the home side: AAP ImageSource: AAP

Slipper said the Wallabies had “missed the jump” and been beaten in the “collision area” since Jones got his mitts on England.

The Wallabies veteran paid tribute to Owen Farrell – the star of the 2016 series whitewash, scoring 66 points in three Tests – and said they had to limit his point scoring opportunities to head to Brisbane with a series lead.

“I do expect England to be hard in the collision area,” he said. 

“Clearly set-piece is a big part of their game and their DNA. 

“But the biggest thing is just they’re really good at just ticking off the scoreboard, 3-6-9. 

“They’re a team that takes opportunities. 

“We just need to limit that and then make sure that when we get the opportunity we strike.

“He’s a world class player. He’ll take his opportunities. He’s a really good leader from what I’ve seen and gets his boys going. He’ll be a big part of the England set up and boys will fold in behind him.”

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Source by [graycupnews.com]

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