Fresh-looking side for England

2013-10-31 14:19
Lee Dickson (Getty)

London - Two years from the Rugby World Cup, England coach Stuart Lancaster would have hoped to bed down a largely settled team yet he goes into Saturday's Test against Australia with a line-up littered by question marks.

Joel Tomkins makes his debut in yet another new centre partnership alongside Billy Twelvetrees, No 8 Billy Vunipola makes his first start and wing Marlon Yarde his second.

Lee Dickson has forced himself back ahead of British and Irish Lions starter Ben Youngs at scrumhalf while Courtney Lawes gets another chance to establish himself in the second row.

No wonder Lancaster stuck with flank Chris Robshaw as captain for Saturday's game at Twickenham as further disruption, especially against a team who have played together regularly for five months, was the last thing he wanted.

Lancaster has been planning for England's home World Cup from the day he got the job a few months after the last one in 2011 but even his famously meticulous planning is unable to control injuries and form swings.

Ever the pragmatist, however, the upbeat coach will welcome the chance to give more high-tension game time to some of the fresher faces while his decision to reward Dickson for his early-season performances at Northampton will send a clear message that players will be picked on form, not reputation.

The coach has promised to take on the Wallabies, as well as Argentina and New Zealand later in November, playing an attacking brand of rugby that will get the fans behind England.

With Dickson, Twelvetrees, Yarde and Tomkins in the side there is certainly potential for more fireworks than the Twickenham faithful have become used to, last year's stunning victory over New Zealand being a shining exception.

Dickson's effervescent outlook sets the tone, Yarde is a real game-changer, as evidenced by his wonderful two-try debut against the Pumas in June, and Tomkins, 26, brings power to the midfield.

"I'm delighted for Joel," said Lancaster of the former Wigan rugby league player whose brother Sam is currently playing for England in the 13-man code's World Cup.

"He has had a great week's training and is ready for his chance. He has played in many high-profile games in his career and has a great temperament for the big occasion," the coach told reporters.

"Billy Vunipola and Marlon Yarde made a big impression in Argentina and it's going to be a special occasion for them to run out at Twickenham in front of 82 000 passionate supporters for the first time."

Lawes gets his chance after injury ruled out Geoff Parling and the powerful Northampton man will be desperate to take it after slipping down the pecking order since the 2011 World Cup.

His presence, behind a hefty front row, should help England maintain their dominance of the Wallabies in the scrum and is also their defence against the dangerous Australian backs, particularly in the opening half-hour, an area that could be the key to Saturday's match.

Australia announced their team earlier on Thursday, handing the captaincy to number eight Ben Mowen to allow James Horwill to "concentrate on his own playing performance".

The Wallabies go into the match after a dire season that has produced only three wins in 10 games and a change of coach as Ewen McKenzie took over from Robbie Deans after their Lions series defeat.

However, a year ago Australia arrived at Twickenham on the back of a 33-6 thrashing by France and duly won 20-14.



15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Mako Vunipola

Substitutes: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Joe Marler, 18 David Wilson, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Ben Foden


15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nick Cummims, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nic White, 22 Christian Leali'ifano, 23 Bernard Foley

Read more on:    england  |  stuart lancaster  |  rugby

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