Friday’s rugby news has the Wallaby starters revealed, Robshaw under more pressure, Horwill still hoping for a call-up and some changes for England.
Wallabies return to starters
The Wallabies have reverted to the starting line-up that won their Rugby World Cup opener for Sunday morning’s vital Pool A clash with hosts England at Twickenham. The side was unrecognisable as a second-string unit defeated Uruguay 65-3 last weekend, but Sunday will see 14 changes with a return to the starters that sunk Fiji 28-13 to kick off Australia’s World Cup campaign.
“I believe that this group has been really clear on where we must improve and the level we must be at to compete with England and we know that it’s going to be a very tough challenge,” Michael Cheika said. Cheika will name his eight-man bench following the Wallabies training session at Dulwich College in London
Jones criticizes Robshaw
Japan coach Eddie Jones has asserted that captain Chris Robshaw is a weak point in England’s team which Australia will exploit on Saturday. The former Wallaby coach says flanker Robshaw will not be able to compete with Wallabies back-row duo Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the Twickenham showdown, leaving the home team vulnerable.
“Australia will have two opensides in their back row, so they are expected to dominate the ruck contest,” Jones said. “Ben Morgan and Tom Wood don’t play over the ball, and Robshaw only half does it, so it looks like an uphill battle for England.” While emphasizing that Robshaw is a good workmanlike player, Jones said that England needed a more dynamic openside such as Toulon’s Steffon Armitage
Horwill still hopeful
Former Wallabies captain James Horwill still holds out hope of playing Test rugby again, despite being left out of this year’s World Cup squad. Horwill has been training with his new team Harlequins in London for the past two weeks, and was once again passed over in favour of Sam Carter in response to the tournament ending pectoral injury to lock Will Skelton.
With 61 Test caps under his belt, Horwill is still eligible for Test selection and indicated his desire to play for the Wallabies again. “It’s always something that I’d love to do,” Horwill said. “I certainly haven’t ruled out the opportunity to play for my country. I love every time I have done that and it’s certainly meant a lot to me.”
Burgess left out
Jonathan Joseph will be rushed back into England’s midfield for the do-or-die showdown with Australia, with Sam Burgess sacrificed to create space for his Bath team-mate. Burgess moving back to the bench will allow for Brad Barritt’s shift back to inside centre, with Owen Farrell will keep his place at fly-half, meaning another replacement stint for George Ford.
There had been fears that Joseph’s pectoral injury – suffered in the World Cup opener against Fiji – might keep him out for the duration of the pool stage, but a rapid recovery will allow for the reshuffle. In the forwards, there will be an enforced change at No 8 where Ben Morgan likely to replace Billy Vunipola, whose tournament has been ended by injury.