England keep faith with squad

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Published: Tuesday 25th November 2014 by The News Editor

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England have named an unchanged matchday squad for Saturday’s final QBE International against Australia at Twickenham.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster has retained the same 23 following the 28-9 victory over Samoa that ended a run of five successive defeats, including three-point losses to New Zealand and South Africa earlier in the autumn.

Lancaster has already stated that George Ford will continue at fly-half following his impressive full debut against the Pacific Islanders, leaving the identity of inside centre as the key talking point ahead of Thursday morning’s team announcement.

Owen Farrell was moved to 12 to accommodate Ford but failed to produce a performance demanding his retention and Lancaster revealed on Monday that he is giving serious consideration to picking Billy Twelvetrees instead.

Twelvetrees was praised for the energy he brought to the team as a second-half replacement last Saturday and he could displace Farrell on to the bench for the visit of Australia.

Another outstanding issue in selecting the starting XV is at blindside flanker, although Lancaster has hinted that Tom Wood will swap places with James Haskell after offering substitute cover against Samoa.

Dylan Hartley is expected to replace Rob Webber at hooker after being demoted for his brainless yellow card against South Africa while the lack of additional second row cover suggests Courtney Lawes is expected to recover from his knee problem.

“There has been some strong competition for places throughout the whole series,” Lancaster said.

“With our strength in depth increasing in many positions and key players to return from injury soon, we will be in good shape for 2015.

“It was great to get the win last week and the whole 23 did well so we want to give those guys another chance against an Australian team who will want to finish their season on a high.”

England squad v Australia:

Forwards: D Attwood (Bath Rugby), K Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Wasps), G Kruis (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), M Mullan (Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), R Webber (Bath Rugby), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), T Wood (Northampton Saints).

Backs (10): B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath Rugby), J May (Gloucester Rugby), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), A Watson (Bath Rugby), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), M Yarde (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Published: Tuesday 25th November 2014 by The News Editor

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