Eddie Jones tried to paint a more nuanced picture. With no wins to report, he argued England’s progress has been less obvious but will show itself at the Rugby World Cup next year.
It was a difficult argument to make. The British press almost universally rejected it with growing vehemence.
There is an element of truth in what Jones said, especially regarding the highly controversial combination at No. 10 and No. 12 between Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell.
It makes sense – as Jones said – that their understanding will increase as they spend more time together.
However, a Wallabies victory this weekend with a team that has a good half-dozen players below the full roster wouldn’t give Jones a leg to stand on.
The Wallabies have been greatly disturbed over the past 10 days. In particular, the loss of Andrew Kellaway this week must have hurt. Is there a natural organizer among the back three of Petaia, Tom Wright and Marika Koroibete this weekend?
Dave Rennie is either a great poker player or he’s comfortable with the Wallabies playing resources.
And up front, did anyone predict a Wallabies midline of Cadeyrn Neville and Matt Philip at the start of the season?
It is true that the loss of the exceptional Tom Curry (concussion) will hurt England. However, most of their changes this week were unforced.
Yet Rennie was the picture of calm. Either he’s a great poker player or he’s comfortable with the Wallabies game resources. With Hunter Paisami entering at No.13 and Izaia Perese on the bench, it could well be the latter.
The depth chart doesn’t stop there either. Jock Campbell will face Fiji at No 15 for Australia A this weekend, with Ben Donaldson in place of Tane Edmed at No 10. Not bad.
Rennie won’t be thinking about the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, but you’d be naive to think it’s not always in the back of his mind.
At some point this year, he would no doubt like to know if he can really trust Lolesio at No. 10, if Petaia can do it against the Northern Hemisphere heavyweights and if his team has the collective ability to ride with the hits when they come fast and fast.