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Rugby union: talking points from the first round of autumn internationals

Eddie Jones missed his pillar players against Argentina, while Wales got off to a typically slow start and Scotland showed the risks attached to their open rugby

Owen Farrell will return to the England team against Australia on Saturday; the question is where. Eddie Jones played Henry Slade at 12 against Argentina but with a lack of quick ball, the Exeter centre was a marginal figure. The head coach has the option of restoring Farrell to inside-centre and moving Slade to 13, where he has excelled for the Chiefs this season, or putting Farrell at 10 in place of George Ford, who is not at his most effective when weighed down with slow possession. The decision should be made in conjunction with ball-carrying options at forward. Jones has looked for a balance between set-piece proficiency and presence in the loose, but if he puts the lack of dynamism in attack down to something more than rust, Jamie George and Harry Williams come into focus and Maro Itoje’s return would allow Courtney Lawes to move back to the back row. If Jones acts in anger, there will be a shake-up, but he is one who counts to 10 before selecting. What is evident is that when England are without the pillars of Farrell, Itoje and Billy Vunipola, their foundations shake.

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