RUGBY UNION: It has been a tough few months for the Wallabies but Bernard Foley says the team is better than the one that lost 3-0 to England in the June series on home soil.
The Wallabies have won six and lost five since the embarrassment of that whitewash, but Foley, who has been one of the better players this season, said the side had definitely grown.
"I think matured is probably the best word,” he said.
"A lot of the guys who were on debut or in Test footy for their first set-up back in June, I think just that experience and just as a squad being able to gel, build combinations, even just spend time together, has been massive for us.
"And this year's been very character-building for this side and I think that's probably shown and I think a lot of guys will walk away from this year having learned a lot and be a lot better in the future from it.”
Foley said the 3-0 series loss to Eddie Jones's men in the Aussie winter wasn't as bad as it looked and said there was plenty to be positive about heading into Sunday's (12.30am AEST) clash at Twickenham.
"(I learned in June) that Test footy's a matter of margin,” he said.
"In a lot of those games we weren't that far off, or the attack was all right and then we were sloppy in defence or our discipline and that hurt us.
"For me, it's just getting everyone up to the level of knowing their roles and playing the style that we want to play and just sticking to that, not compromising, and that's probably where we got hurt in June.”
With Will Genia unlikely to be released by French club side Stade Francais, Foley is set to be partnered once more with Nick Phipps as he was for the series defeat in Australia.
Foley said both would be better prepared for the English challenge this time around.
"I think it's just being smart in how we engage in the play and we just pick and choose our times,” he said.
"In the June series, they came with a pretty simple but well-executed plan and (it) did a really good job for them.
"So for us it's just managing the game as best we can and allowing us to probably be more accurate, especially at the breakdown and in our starters so that we're probably not as involved or not falling into the trap of getting targeted by them.”
The Wallabies will be able to call on forward Dean Mumm for their clash against England, after the 32-year-old was cleared of a lifting tackle charge by the World Rugby disciplinary committee.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.