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'They will be all over it': Rodda backs Wallaby front row to match England's scrum

By Jack O'Rourke
(Photo by Clive Rose/World Rugby via Getty Images)

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The Wallabies forward pack are preparing for a brutal encounter upfront when they face England at Twickenham on Saturday.

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Izack Rodda is relishing the chance to go up against an abrasive England pack. The 2-metre tall lock has forced his way back into the Wallabies fold since returning to Australia to sign with the Western Force.

He has formed an imposing locking pair with Rory Arnold, who has been recalled for the Wallabies tour of Europe. 

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The pair have reconnected for the first time since lining up together for the Rugby World Cup in 2019, where England knocked Australia out of the quarter-finals.

“It was a blast from the past with Rory. It’s good to see him back here after a year off. I think we picked up where we left off from a combination point of view,” said Rodda after their first outing against Scotland.

“He’s a real easy bloke on and off the field to gel with.”

England will be targeting the Wallabies set-piece, and in particular the scrum. It’s an area Australia struggled with against Scotland when the front row was forced into a reshuffle after Taniela Tupou went off with an HIA and Allan Alaalatoa was off the field for extended parts of the match. 

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The job has become that much harder with Alaalatoa and Tupou all but set to miss the test match after both suffered head knocks. They will be required to observe head injury return to play protocols, but with a short turn-around between games, they are racing against the clock. 

The Wallabies were forming a powerful stable of front-rowers with Alaalatoa, Tupou, James Slipper and Angus Bell. Dave Rennie will now be considering shifting Slipper to tight-head and starting Bell at loose-head. They have the experienced Tom Robertson and a wildcard in London Irish prop Ollie Hoskins standing by to fill the bench spots. The 28-year-old was called into the training squad this week as cover and could be in line to make a remarkable debut. 

Rodda has put his faith in his men up front to get the scrum back on track despite the injury blows, after becoming a source of strength for the Wallabies throughout 2021. 

“I’ll put my hand up, I don’t know much about scrummaging, I’m just a lock, I just push. I think that is something the front row will fix up.” 

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“They are a pretty tight-knit group and they will be aware of what they need to improve coming into the England game. I will leave it in their hands. They will be all over it.”

What has been firing is the lineout. Against Scotland, the Wallabies won all 13 of their lineouts and one against the throw thanks to Rodda. 

This week they will be matching up against the likes of Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, and Courtney Lawes, some of the world’s most proficient lineout operators. It’s an area Rodda is well-versed in, and it will have to be a pillar of strength for the Wallabies if they are to gain any ascendency against England. 

“I do know a bit more about the lineout. They are a great pack, especially those three guys (Hill, Itoje and Lawes.) They have a big defensive presence. It comes down to us, we have to do our own thing right. It’s definitely crucial we win the lineout ball so the backs can do their thing. We’ve got a great backline and we want to give them quality ball.

“We can expect anything from England. They have a good set-piece and we just have to wait and see what they bring.”

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