Ollie Phillips: Argentina will start as favourites but I can't wait to see how Eddie Jones's young guns get on

Ollie Phillips
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Tom Curry was extremely dominant over the ball against the Barbarians (Source: Getty)

Had England beaten Ireland in March to set a new record of 19 successive Test victories then there would have been pressure to keep that run going in Argentina. But defeat at the Avivia Stadium has allowed this tour to be a real development series.

Head coach Eddie Jones has taken one of the youngest touring parties ever assembled by England to Argentina and four players – Tom Curry, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson and Alex Lozowski – will make their first Test starts in the clash in San Juan on Saturday.

Jones, who announced his matchday squad on Thursday evening, has also named the likes of Dylan Hartley, Nathan Hughes, Danny Care, George Ford and Mike Brown in his XV so the spine of that team is strong and there is a thread of experience.

But it’s going to be a really tough challenge for England and Argentina will fancy their chances of inflicting defeat on the visitors for the first time since 2009. For me, the Pumas are the favourites to win both Tests.

It’s also going to be a difficult environment for the players to perform. The arenas out there are still fairly rugged and raw and it will be a complete contrast to running out at Twickenham or any Premiership ground for that matter.

While football is still the sporting lifeblood in Argentina, there is a strong appetite for the Pumas and their fans will be in the England players’ faces and will be extremely vociferous.

Argentina might be ranked No9 in the world, compared to England at No2, but Jaguares play in Super Rugby and possess a large quota of the international side, so they’re getting to play together regularly.

Make no mistake about it, England are in for a battle. Equally though, Jones has a good, if inexperienced, side at his disposal and I’m really looking forward to seeing how some of those players cope. Here are my three to keep an eye on:

Tom Curry: The Sale flanker, 18, will become the youngest player to make his England debut since Jonny Wilkinson in 1998. He played against the Barbarians last month and was extremely dominant over the ball. He reminded me of World‚ÄąCup winner Neil Back, a ball-carrying option but someone who could also be the link man and switch the point of attack.

Ellis Genge: One of the standout performers in the Premiership last season. He starts on Saturday and it will be a real test for him as front-row play is a stronghold of Argentina’s tactics. He has the potential to be devastating.

Denny Solomona: The Sale flyer is on the bench and it will be incredibly exciting to see him pull on an England jersey. Attack coach Glen Ella has likened him to Australia’s Lote Tuqiri. He’s a really powerful, direct runner and could give this England side something they’ve never had before.

Ollie Phillips is a former England Sevens captain and now a director at PwC, focusing on organisational, cultural and technological change.@OlliePhillips11

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