England return to action on Sunday when they battle it out against the Barbarians for the right to lift The Quilter Cup at Twickenham. BettingPro.com’s rugby union expert has analysed the match-up and has picked out his best predictions and tips.
READ MORE: Check out the Live Rugby Union odds for the remainder of the season
Eddie Jones and his England squad begin their preparations for their final Six Nations clash when they take on Barbarians at Twickenham.
England travel to Italy on October 31 to bring their 2020 Six Nations campaign to a close, Jones might not have any Exeter Chiefs or Wasps players available to him this week because of their involvement in the Gallagher Premiership Grand Final, but he has still named a strong 32-man squad.
The Australian has included 11 uncapped players in his squad for The Quilter Cup encounter, with Ali Crossdale, Fraser Dingwall, Alex Mitchell, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Thorley, Alex Dombrandt, Tom Dunn, Alex Moon, David Ribbans and Joe Heyes getting their chance.
Owen Farrell has been named in the squad despite missing the closing stages of Saracens season through suspension for a high tackle. He has apparently been having extra tackling practice to change his technique and he will be eager to prove to everyone he isn’t a liability in defence.
Barbarians coach Vern Cotter has named a strong squad himself with seven Fijians – already in the country – named as he looks to entertain the viewing audience.
Cotter has also named a few players that have been unlucky not be named in the England squad, so they will be keen to put in a sterling performance to make Jones rethink his plans for the upcoming Six Nations clash and Autumn Nations Cup matches against Georgia, Ireland and Wales.
One of those players is fly-half Tom de Glanville – son of former England captain Phil – the youngster knows that a good performance will put him in Jones’ mind for internationals in the future.
Some may class this game as a glorified friendly, but it gives players the opportunity to gain some valuable match fitness ahead of the Autumn schedule.
Jones might experiment with a few things during the 80 minutes, but I am backing them to win this one in a close but fearsome encounter with a winning margin of 1-12 points.
I expect the battle in the middle of the park to be quite ferocious, with both teams looking for barge over scores. For that reason, I am going for England’s Billy Vunipola to use his strength to crash over atg any time during the 80 minutes.