James Horwill has been stripped of the Wallaby captaincy. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au/Sam Ruttyn
After showing plenty of promise in their last two starts, the Wallabies have the chance to show the Northern Hemisphere they’re still amongst the top tier of rugby nations, starting with Sunday morning’s (AEST) clash with old foe England at Twickenham. Ewen McKenzie has had a full Rugby Championship to put his stamp on the team, with Australia taking on its first Grand Slam tour since 2009. Not since 1984 has the green and gold conquered all four home nations on an end-of-season tour.
Australia has won three of the last four Spring Tour matches against England, including a 20-14 victory at Twickenham last November. Stuart Lancaster’s outfit was relatively impressive in the Six Nations at the start of this year, winning its first four matches before succumbing to Wales 30-3 in what was effectively a grand final at Millenium Stadium.
There were seven Englishmen in the British and Irish Lions team that dumped Australia 41-16 in the third and deciding Test in Sydney in July, but five of them came off the bench in a Wales-dominated team. The Red Rose hasn’t appeared in the Test arena since that loss to the Welsh in mid-March.
The Wallaby scrum was dominated at times in that series, but the green and gold received some good news this week with England and Lions prop Alex Corbisiero ruled out of Sunday’s Test with a knee injury. Australia should, theoretically, have an advantage at scrums given it has played seven Tests under the new “crouch, bind, set” engagement law, but several times before England has completely dominated Australia’s scrum.
Ewen McKenzie has stripped James Horwill of the captaincy in order for him to concentrate solely on his own performance, with Ben Mowen to lead the side out at Twickenham. Lock Rob Simmons re-injured his knee at training midweek and has been ruled out with Sitaleki Timani to fill his spot, while Scott Fardy comes back into the starting lineup after missing the third Bledisloe Cup Test with an eye injury. Nick Cummins returns on the wing, but Christian Leali’ifano has to settle for a place on the bench.
LIVE on Fox Sports 2 from 12.15am (AEST).
Click here to bet on International Rugby matches