The biggest Test this weekend is the clash between old foes England and Australia. It’s ten years since the two sides met in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, so with memories of that historic day in mind, it should be a fierce contest. Team news below, with O2 Inside Line.
Both teams were named earlier today, with a surprising change to the Wallabies as coach Ewen McKenzie has taken the captaincy away from James Horwill and has handed it to Ben Mowen.
“I just want James to concentrate on his football. I know what he’s capable of and the team needs him at his best,” McKenzie, who has named Quade Cooper as vice-captain, said.
For the home side, England coach Stuart Lancaster has selected Lee Dickson at scrumhalf ahead of Lions tourist Ben Youngs, while Joel Tomkins comes into the midfield for his Test debut.
Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury make an exciting second row partnership, while both captain Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood are on the flanks, and young Billy Vunipola gets his first Test start.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of playing Australia – they have made great strides under Ewen McKenzie and their new coaching team and they are formidable opponents,” said Lancaster.
Mike Brown, Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Marland Yarde, Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (c), Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler, David Wilson, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Ben Foden
Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, James Horwill, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen (c) Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Ben McCAlman, Nic White, Christian Leali’ifano, Bernard Foley.
In this first episode of O2 Inside Line for the season, Toby Flood and Alex Goode analyse what happened the last time the two sides met, we get to see a bit of the training that takes place, and some of the players take part in a few quickfire questions.