England take on Australia this weekend
England and Australia renew a rivalry last seen at the 2019 World Cup when the Autumn Nations Series continues at Twickenham on Saturday.
Here, we look at the back row battle between Tom Curry and Michael Hooper that will help shape the contest.
Tom Curry – England
Position: Back row
Caps: 37 (includes three Lions caps)
Debut: v Argentina, 2017
Weight: 17st 3lbs
Points: 20 (Tries four)
In a testament to Curry’s influence, Eddie Jones recently revealed his plans to rebuild his England team around the 2019 world player of the year nominee. Developing at a meteoric rate, Curry has evolved from defensive destroyer to a more-rounded skill set that includes a bigger role in linking play.
Fast and powerful, he is at his most effective as a rampaging openside flanker but this autumn, Jones has resumed the experiment of trying him at number eight where he is still learning his trade.
Michael Hooper – Australia
Debut: v Scotland, 2012
Points: 110 (Tries 22)
A dynamo of a player and an out-and-out openside, Hooper has been an ever-present for Australia for a decade that has included some troubled times. Although among the smaller forwards in the game he punches above his weight through a combination of his strength and speed.
His athleticism and rugby intelligence once saw him dubbed a ‘hybrid centre’, summing up the all-court game that will eventually see him retire as a Wallaby great, but Australia’s longest-serving captain has years left in him yet.
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