Wallaby great George Gregan says England rugby team are serious contenders now
They crashed out in the pool stage of the Rugby World Cup on home soil last year, but England have recovered swiftly from that shocking campaign, posting a perfect record in the 2016 Six Nations to claim the title last month.
Crucial to their success has been head coach Eddie Jones.
Famously, the Aussie was coach of the Wallabies when they lost the World Cup final to England on home soil in 2003 with that dramatic Jonny Wilkinson drop goal.
The excitement is building as England prepare for three Tests Down Under in June, and George Gregan can't wait.
The former Wallaby captain and scrum half - a World Cup winner in 1999 - believes one of Australia's fiercest rivals will be hard to handle on the tour.
"You saw what he did in a short period of time with that English team, which I think contains 70 per cent of the squad that were eliminated in the World Cup," he told The New Paper yesterday at the National Stadium, on the sidelines of the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens Series.
"They were undefeated as Six Nations champions, and they'll be feeling confident about coming to Australia and testing themselves against one of the better southern hemisphere teams."
Jones masterminded one of the biggest upsets in the history of sport when Japan defeated South Africa in the pool stage in last year's World Cup.
Gregan, who played under Jones when the latter was Wallabies coach from 2001 to 2005, praised his countryman's ability to create an "environment which challenges players."
"He's always looking for those little one per cents along the way to help you get better, and people really enjoy that," said the 42-year-old, who is Australia's most-capped player with 139 appearances.
"He'll look forward to coming back to Australia; he and Michael (Cheika, current Wallaby coach) have played with and against each other, so it's going to be a great three weeks.
"Australia always love playing England in all sports, it's just that Eddie's their head coach at the moment, but that rivalry is always going to be there and that's what makes it special."
While Gregan noted that teams like France, Argentina and Japan are also improving on the international stage, he still backed Australia to be contenders at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
"Australian teams have traditionally played well in World Cups, so I'd imagine they have a chance," he said.
"But, there's a lot of rugby still to play, so the here and now is building on what they did under Michael."
Referring to the Wallabies' 34-17 defeat to the All Blacks in the final last year, Gregan added: "They were consistent last year, but they want to give themselves a chance to win games against New Zealand.
"They're good enough to do that and if they can do that consistently over the next few years, then that holds you in a better state of health to feel confident about winning a World Cup."
Gregan said the growth of Sevens Rugby, with its debut at the Rio Olympics in August, will benefit the sport as a whole.
"Athletes are going to get a chance to compete for their country at the Olympics for a medal, and kids all around the world will aspire to be on the stage," said the HSBC ambassador.
"The Olympics will expose rugby through Sevens to a whole new audience, and people will enjoy what they see because it's a carnival atmosphere."