THE STAGE is set and the first test of the November campaign is almost here. Both Australia and England have named their starting line-ups for this Saturday at Twickenham.
The only surprise for the hosts is that Northampton Saints scrum-half Lee Dickson is preferred to Ben Youngs. The other headlines in the side come from Mako and Billy Vunipola both starting in the same team, while Tom Youngs starts at hooker as his brother sits on the bench.
Saracens centre Joel Tomkins lines up at 13 – on the same day his brother Sam will be playing for England Rugby League – alongside Billy Twelvetrees. Meanwhile, Courtney Lawes impressive form is rewarded as he comes in to partner Joe Launchbury as Geoff Parling misses out because of concussion.
As for the visitors, there has been a major shake-up as Ben Mowen is instated a captain from No 8 and James Horwill is stripped of the pressure in order to “concentrate on his football.”
A real area of uncertainty will come in as Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani take on Twelvetrees and Tomkins, while the most scintillating showdown of the day could come from two in-form full-backs trying to plot paths past each other as Mike Brown and Israel Folau go toe-to-toe. Another fascinating match-up sees a flank pair of Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw take on Scott Fardy and Michael Hooper.
England XV v Australia (Twickenham. KO 2.30pm): 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
Subs: Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler, David Wilson, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Ben Foden
Wallaby XV v England: 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)
Subs: Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Ben McCAlman, Nic White, Christian Leali’ifano, Bernard Foley