12 hours ago
Can England's rising stars topple
the world champions?
The world champion Kangaroos have not lost a Test Series to Great Britain since 1970 and they have not lost a Test Series on British soil for some 44 years.
But when the world's best run out against England's rising stars for their first game on British soil next Tuesday night, there will be immense pressure on the tourists to perform.
The Aussies will meet Great Britain for the first game in the three-match Think! Road Safety Test Series at Wigan on November 8th, but first they will 'warm up' against a French Selection XIII this weekend en route to London, where they will meet England 'A' at Griffin Park, and then the world beaters will travel to play Wales in Bridgend.
If ever the time was ripe to knock the Aussies off their world conquering perch, this is it.
The Australians have in excess of a dozen players omitted from the tour through injury, including captain Andrew Johns who is widely regarded as the world's best player, and also injured and now retired from representative duty is vice captain Gordon Tallis.
Australia coach Chris Anderson is under increasing pressure with both his domestic job at the Sharks and his national job on the line, and Australia's loss to the Kiwis last weekend has brought the entire camp under even further pressure. That loss has also shown those teams in waiting that the 'green and golds' are not invincible.
Few expect the young England 'A' team to beat the world champions on Tuesday night, but when you look at the line-up, which was announced today (Tuesday), it gives great hope that unexpected glory just might occur in Brentford.
Wigan has the lion's share of selection with six Warriors on show, Bradford, Leeds and St Helens each with three apiece.
London Broncos have three players in the England 'A' squad that will compete in the upcoming European Nations Cup (Rob Purdham, Paul Sykes, Chris Thorman), but such is the talent available to John Kear, it is only Thorman that will run out on the Broncos home pitch on Tuesday.
The talented number seven said: "This will be a great experience. They are the best in the world (Australia) and to have a crack at them even before they play Great Britain is a fantastic opportunity.
I guess I'm lucky in that I have a bit more knowledge about the run of the pitch at Griffin Park, so hopefully that might give us a bit of an edge."
England 'A' coach John Kear also recognises the opportunity in front of his rising stars: "It's a huge opportunity for these lads and I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we are very much looking forward to it."
There is no doubt they (Australia) will be very well prepared given their slip up last weekend, but we'll also be ready."
CEO of London Broncos, who are hosting the International, is calling for even more British support: "The ticket sales have been very good but there have been a lot of antipodean accents on the end of the phone lines.
It's great that the Aussies will be turning out in such force, but I would hate for us (England) to be outnumbered."
Chris Anderson said before the touring party's departure that he would have no problem being sacked if the side failed to continue Australia's unbeaten series record against the Lions: "I think with this team, especially getting beat on the weekend and the fact that we've got a lot of players out, the Poms are going to be thinking that they're a big chance, so that's a good challenge for us." (quote source: Sydney Morning Herald)
ENGLAND 'A TEAM TO FACE AUSTRALIA:
M Aspinwall, S Briscoe, G Hock, D Sculthorpe, S O'Loughlin, D Tickle, (Wigan), S Reardon, R Parker, L Radford (Bradford), R Burrow, M Diskin, D McGuire (Leeds), A Gardner, M Gleeson, M Higham, (St Helens), C Thorman (London), I Sibbitt (Warrington), A Lynch (Castleford)