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Wallabies ready for depleted England pack

AAP logoAAP 30/11/2016 Ian McCullough

Australia are planning to take advantage of a depleted England forward pack as they look to end Eddie Jones' unbeaten record at Twickenham on Saturday.

Jones is aiming to become the first coach to lead England to 14 successive wins in a 12-month period, but he'll be unable to call on the services of the outstanding Brisbane-born No.8 Billy Vunipola who's sidelined with a knee injury.

Vunipola, who moved to the UK as a child when his father, former Tonga captain Fe`ao Vunipola, signed for Welsh club Pontypool, has been an integral part of England's renaissance in 2016.

The damaging ball carrier is a huge loss for the hosts, who are already without locks Joe Launchbury (suspended) and the injured Maro Itoje, and giant Wallabies second-rower Rob Simmons hopes their absence can be fully exploited.

"I definitely hope so," Simmons said.

"We're preparing the best we can and whatever happens on the weekend will be what it is.

"I really enjoy watching Billy play. I think he's quite a talented number eight so it'll be a big loss for their team and they play a lot of their footy off the back of his big carry so whoever fills his shoes will be up for a big task."

Coach Michael Cheika ordered the 70-times capped Simmons to add some extra physicality to his game and the Queensland Red believes he's made huge improvements during this tour and embracing the new responsibility of calling the line-out.

"It has been good, I think this tour in particular I've come a long way," he said.

"I'm working on those things at training and trying to impress and make myself a better player as well as moving forward in the line-out and scrum.

"It's been enjoyable personally to be doing a couple of things a bit better, I was a fair way off at the start I suppose."

England have been confidently talking up their physically gifted pack since their success in Australia earlier this year.

However, without Vunipola and Itoje - two stand outs in the 3-0 series win to contend with - Simmons believes they're more than capable of matching the hosts.

"It's been a focus of the forwards not just this whole tour, but the whole year," he said.

"Something we've been trying to raise the bar in is the physicality, especially for the tight five.

"It's an area we (the tight five) need to own and the team runs off the back of that.

"If we can set up a platform, especially for the ball players off nice front-foot ball, it makes it a lot easier for the rest of the team."

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