Coach Eddie Jones said Thursday three new faces in England’s back line would give his team more attacking options for their must-win second Test against an Australian side that has been forced into five changes.
The visitors crashed 30-28 against a 14-man Wallabies in the first match of the three-Test series at Perth last weekend and with the pressure mounting, Jones rolled the dice for their clash in Brisbane on Saturday.
Leicester Tigers’ Jack van Poortvliet will make his first start at scrum-half, replacing veteran Danny Care, after scoring a try off the bench last weekend.
Jones also handed debuts to Northampton Saints’ Tommy Freeman (left wing) and the Tigers’ Guy Porter (outside centre), in place of the under-performing Joe Cokanasiga and Joe Marchant.
Owen Farrell starts at inside centre with Marcus Smith at fly-half. Jack Nowell is on the right wing and Freddie Steward stays at fullback.
There was speculation that teenager Henry Arundell could also start after he scored a try with his first touch as a substitute in Perth, but he will play the same role again.
“We have decided to make changes in our back line, they were tough calls but we feel they will strengthen the team,” said Jones. “There are opportunities to attack against Australia which we can take.”
Bath flanker Sam Underhill, meanwhile, was brought in for Tom Curry, who went off after a head knock in Perth and has returned home.
It is the only change to the forwards pack, with captain Courtney Lawes the other flanker and Billy Vunipola at No 8. In the front row, props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart join hooker Jamie George with Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill the locks.
“We have had solid preparation this week and looking forward to an important game in Brisbane,” added Jones.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie made five changes, with his hand forced by injuries and suspensions after the brutal Perth battle which snapped an eight-match losing streak against Jones’s men.
Fullback Tom Banks broke his arm during that Test with right wing Andrew Kellaway expected to replace him in Brisbane. But the Melbourne Rebels player has been ruled out for the series after injuring a hamstring in training this week.
That opened the door to Jordan Petaia, usually a wing, to start in the number 15 jersey for the first time at international level, with Tom Wright taking Kellaway’s place.
“We don’t think Kells will be back for the series. We will reassess whether we can get him back in time for Argentina (in August),” said Rennie.
“But exciting for Jordy. He’s talked about wanting to play his footy at 15, he has played really well there for the (Queensland) Reds.”
The Wallabies also made changes to their tight five, with powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou back from injury to replace Allan Alaalatoa, who suffered a concussion in Perth but should be fit for the final Test in Sydney.
With lock Darcy Swain serving a two-match ban after being sent off for headbutting Jonny Hill, Matt Philip returns to the starting side as the chief lineout caller.
The other change sees hard-charging Hunter Paisami at outside centre in place of Len Ikitau, who has calf soreness.
Rennie insisted the injury toll and Swain’s suspension hadn’t been too disruptive.
“I wouldn’t say it has been massively disruptive … we have talked about the fact that we have a lot more depth than a couple of years ago and this is an opportunity to highlight that,” he said.
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