NEWS

England name side for Aussie challenge

November 17, 2017

England's team to play Australia at Twickenham has been named, with Owen Farrell in the starting line-up and Maro Itoje on the bench.

Head coach Eddie Jones has brought the pair back into the fold after they were rested for last week's 21-8 win over Argentina in the first Old Mutual Wealth international. 

Explaining his decision to ration their appearances, Jones said their heavy workload in recent months meant more care had to be taken to maintain their fitness. 

He remarked: "We're looking after the players. Players have got injured since the Lions series.

"We are missing Ben Te'o and Jack Nowell, Wales have lost George North and Jonathan Davies, the list continues. We want to make sure we look after our players.

"Maro has done a very rigorous strength and conditioning programme, he's come through that really well. The reason we've put him on the bench is that he achieved quite a lot of the goals we set him."

England's other changes will see Joe Launchbury coming into the second row alongside Courtney Lawes, while George Kruis has been omitted from the squad. Anthony Watson is switching to full-back and Jonny May will be on the wing, with Mike Brown out of the squad with concussion. Joe Marker will be on the bench after returning from suspension. 

Australia are also limiting the workload of their top players, with Israel Folau missing out on a Twickenham appearance. Like Farrell and Itoje, he has been named in the International Rugby Board's shortlist for world player of the year. 

Fans booking corporate hospitality for England's RBS Six Nations matches at Twickenham in the spring will certainly hope that as many players can be fit and firing as possible as England aim to win the tournament for the third time in a row, but before that, Jones will want to maintain his team's winning run against the land of his birth. That run currently stands at four matches, including a 3-0 whitewash down under on the 2016 summer tour. 

However, Australia could pose a significant challenge after their recent victory over New Zealand. Jones acknowledged this, saying: "This is going to be a great challenge, as we know Australia have been in great form towards the end of their season."

Speaking about his own team, Jones added: "The players have had an extremely positive week. They have trained well and worked hard and we are all excited about going out on Saturday and playing well against a very good Australian side."
 
He also noted that excitement levels have been raised by the timing of the match, just before England face Australia in cricket's Ashes series and with the Rugby League World Cup currently taking place down under.

England fans will hope the side will be able to go up a gear after a stuttering start against Argentina, and after Australia, there is another Old Mutual Autumn International match to come next week against Samoa, who gave Scotland a scare in Edinburgh last week before the home side eventually won 44-38 in the highest-scoring international match ever to take place at Murrayfield.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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