ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster has rewarded the players which arrested a deflating five-match losing streak against Samoa by last night naming an unchanged squad for Saturday’s concluding autumn fixture against Australia at Twickenham.
Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees looks likely to compete with Owen Farrell for the inside-centre position after Lancaster confirmed man of the moment George Ford is set to retain his place at No10 following a promising first Test start against Samoa.
Eight players were yesterday released to their Premiership clubs, including Exeter Chiefs back-row forward Thomas Waldrom and Northampton centre Luther Burrell, with Lancaster adamant the conquerors of Samoa deserve a further crack at the whip.
“It was great to win last week and the whole 23 did well so we want to give those guys another chance against an Australian team that will want to finish their season on a high,” said Lancaster.
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, meanwhile, is not prepared to fall into the trap of underestimating the Wallabies despite Michael Cheika’s side heading into the Twickenham clash on the back of successive defeats to France and Ireland.
The Australian pack has been on the receiving end of stinging criticism in the wake of those losses, although Rowntree is in no mood to be lulled into a false sense of security where Australia’s tactical nous is concerned.
“I don’t trust Australia, they’re a canny team. Always have been,” said Rowntree. “I don’t trust the notion that they’ll potentially struggle in the set piece. Any time that has been said about them, they’ve proved us wrong.
“I have so much respect for Michael Cheika. He’s a wise, smart coach and I’m sure there will be a few tricks up their sleeves, as there always are with Australia.
“You have to have all of your bases covered with Australia because they’re a very clever team and clever tactically.
“Around set-piece and line-out time, I’m sure they’ll have a few sneaks ready.”