ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster expects Owen Farrell to secure a future recall despite dropping the Saracens star in favour of Billy Twelvetrees for the final autumn fixture against Australia at Twickenham tomorrow.
Farrell has been an ever-present for England since the summer tour of South Africa in 2012 but Twelvetrees has received the nod at inside-centre after impressing as a second-half replacement against Samoa, while Bath’s George Ford retains his place at fly-half.
Lancaster has also opted to replace flanker James Haskell and hooker Rob Webber with Northampton Saints pair Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley respectively, while Courtney Lawes is set to start after recovering from a knee injury.
And while he insists Twelvetrees’ promotion to the starting line-up is fully warranted, Lancaster is adamant there remains plenty of mileage in 23-year-old Farrell’s status as an international force. “Owen accepted it well,” said Lancaster. “He’s a great professional and he’s very team focused. He accepted that George [Ford] has played well and that he’s not on top form. He will contribute from the bench and then go away and work hard with Saracens. I’m sure he’ll be back.It’s good to give Billy his first start of the series. He deserves his chance.”
Australia head into the fixture on the back of successive three-point defeats to France and Ireland, with the clash presenting England with their final chance to topple a major southern hemisphere nation ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Despite a turbulent year on and off the pitch, Lancaster believes Michael Cheika’s Wallabies are likely to prove the ultimate proposition. He added: “I think we will learn a huge amount from this game. The likes of George [Ford] and Anthony [Watson] will be tested at a level they’ve never been at before.”
Team: M Brown, A Watson, B Barritt, B Twelvetrees, J May, G Ford, B Youngs; J Marler, D Hartley, D Wilson, D Attwood, C Lawes, T Wood, C Robshaw (Capt), B Morgan
Replacements: R Webber, M Mullan, K Brookes, G Kruis, J Haskell, R Wigglesworth, O Farrell, M Yarde