ENGLAND HAVE DROPPED Owen Farrell to the bench and recalled specialist centre Billy Twelvetrees to midfield in a bid to finish a disappointing November campaign with victory against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
Specialist 10 Farrell played at inside centre in the 28-9 win over Samoa last weekend after Bath’s George Ford made his first Test start at out-half.
The Saracens star failed to impress in midfield however and now head coach Stuart Lancaster has given Ford an opportunity against an Australia team his side will play at Twickenham in the pool stages of next year’s World Cup.
Although Lancaster retained the same matchday 23 that played against Samoa, he also recalled Northampton’s Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley to blindside flanker and hooker respectively in the two other changes to his starting XV, with James Haskell and Rob Webber dropping to the bench.
“It’s good to be able to give Billy his first start of the series,” said Lancaster in a Rugby Football Union statement.
“He took on board the feedback we gave him when he first came into camp and he has worked hard both with us and at Gloucester and deserves his chance.”
Lancaster, who had previously made clear he would have no qualms dropping Farrell, even though his father (Andy Farrell) is England’s backs coach, added: “Owen is a key part of our squad and will offer a huge amount from the bench.”
Turning to his pack changes, Lancaster said: “The Samoa game gave us the opportunity to give James and Rob a start and they made a good contribution.
Australia, who will kick-off on the back of successive three-point defeats by France and Ireland after opening the Test leg of their tour with a win over Wales, named their side overnight. With Tevita Kuridrani sidelined with an ankle injury, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika moved Adam Ashley-Cooper to outside centre and put Rob Horne on the wing while, up front, Sean McMahon returned at blindside flanker.
Cheika, again, has yet to announce his bench.
15. Mike Brown,
14. Anthony Watson
13. Brad Barritt
12. Billy Twelvetrees
11. Jonny May
10. George Ford
9. Ben Youngs
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1. Joe Marler
2. Dylan Hartley
3. David Wilson
4. Dave Attwood
5. Courtney Lawes