Eng­land warned over new Aussie star Alaala­toa

The Rugby Paper - - Autumn Internationals - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

ENG­LAND’S front row must brace for a tor­rid time from up and com­ing Wal­la­bies tight-head Al­lan Alaala­toa at Twick­en­ham this Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to the 20 stone (127kgs) prop’s ex-Brumbies team­mate Michael Dowsett.

Aus­tralia were white­washed 3-0 by Eng­land in 2016, but Alaala­toa was blooded in the wake of that dis­as­trous hid­ing and has played a sig­nif­i­cant role in a Wal­la­bies re­cov­ery that cul­mi­nated in last month’s 23-18 win over New Zealand.

Scrum-half Dowsett, now play­ing for Worcester, said: “Eng­land will be hard to beat at Twick­en­ham but the boys will be fired-up to avenge last year and Al­lan Alaala­toa is some­one who can make a real im­pact.

“He’s in the process of nail­ing down that tight­head spot af­ter switch­ing sides and he’s a fan­tas­tic player, not only as a great scrum­mager but as one of the best ball-car­ry­ing front row­ers I’ve seen in Su­per Rugby or for Aus­tralia.

“His old man, Vili, played prop for Samoa at the 1991 World Cup and Al­lan’s not your typ­i­cal gun for­ward. He reads the game well, has un­be­liev­able mo­bil­ity for some­one so big and he’ll tackle and carry all day.

“Aus­tralia’s scrum was seen as or­di­nary last year but with him and Scot Sio prop­ping they’re no­body’s pushovers now. Michael Cheika’s re­ally firmed that area up and Eng­land will make a poor de­ci­sion to un­der­es­ti­mate them.”

Dowsett, 25, rates the in­tro­duc­tion of leg­endary Aussie fly-half Stephen Larkham as backs coach as an­other in­spired move on the road to re­demp­tion.

“I spent three years at the Brumbies work­ing with Stephen and he has a special rugby brain,” Dowsett said.

“There aren’t many like him and you’ve only got to look at the way he played to see what his phi­los­o­phy is go­ing to be.

“He won’t ne­glect de­fence, but he likes to pro­mote the at­tack­ing side and I re­ally en­joyed be­ing coached by him. The nat­u­ral cy­cle will see him take the top job even­tu­ally, al­though Michael Cheika’s do­ing pretty well now.”

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