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Berrick Barnes returns to the starting lineup this weekend, as the Wallabies take on England at Twickenham Stadium for the Cook Cup.
Barnes will play fullback whilst HSBC Waratahs’ newcomer Michael Hooper retains the No. 7 jersey, after David Pocock, who had his expected return from a knee injury this week, was ruled out with a tight calf. Hooper has put in a series of standout performances since making his debut earlier this season.
Video: Hooper fronts the English press earlier in the week.
Barnes played 26 minutes off the bench last week on, while his NSW team mate Sita Timani recovers from injury to resume his place in the second row, taking over from the injured Kane Douglas. Other changes to the run-on team mean that fellow HSBC Waratah Sekope Kepu moves to the bench making way for Ben Alexander.
The Test, which kicks off at 1.30am on Sunday morning AEDST, will be shown live on Fox Sports and Channel Ten.
Douglas suffered damage to a knee ligament during last week’s Test against France and misses this match while Barnes made his return from a two-game injury spell by playing the final 26 minutes off the bench at the Stade de France last weekend. Timani was forced off after 21 minutes of Australia’s 18-18 draw with New Zealand at Brisbane last month due to tightness in his lower back but returns for the English clash.
The Wallabies arrived in London to continue the Spring Tour last Sunday after a disappointing first up loss to France where the visitors simply made too many mistakes against an inspired home side.
Coach Robbie Deans says that, while no one within the playing group was shying away from the disappointment of that defeat, and Australia’s short comings on the night; the Wallabies were not getting bogged down by the baggage of that performance either.
“The key focus has been to take the meaning from it, and put that learning into practice for this week, both through our preparation and then onto the game itself,” Deans says.
“There aren’t too many challenges in Test rugby that are greater than playing England at Twickenham. We are playing an England side that has been building up under its new leadership, and will see Saturday as the chance to lay down a marker for the future. They will be excited by the opportunities they saw out of our performance last weekend.
“But it goes both ways. Saturday is a significant opportunity for us as a group as well. It’s going to be a great occasion, and one that the whole group is looking forward to.”
The significance of gracing the home of English Rugby hasn’t been lost on the tourists: just five of Saturday’s starting XV featured the last time Australia played England at Twickenham two years ago, when the hosts recorded a 35-18 success which reclaimed the Cook Cup.
These players are Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nathan Sharpe, Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson.
Two more: fullback Barnes and hooker Stephen Moore featured from the bench.
England’s win in 2010 snapped a sequence of two consecutive defeats after Australia had recorded wins on their 2008 and 2009 visits to the ground.
The Wallabies also visited the famous stadium during last year’s brief Spring Tour, but that was for a non-cap match which saw the tourists overpower the Barbarians 60-11.
The Qantas Wallabies team to play England in the Cook Cup Test at Twickenham Stadium in London on Saturday (kick-off: 2.30pm UK time, 1.30am AEDST) is:
15. Berrick Barnes (HSBC Waratahs)
14. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (HSBC Waratahs)
12. Ben Tapuai (Queensland Reds)
11. Nick Cummins (Western Force)
10. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels)
9. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)
8. Wycliff Palu (HSBC Waratahs)
7. Michael Hooper (HSBC Waratahs)
6. Dave Dennis (HSBC Waratahs)
5. Nathan Sharpe (Western Force, captain)
4. Sitaleki Timani (HSBC Waratahs)
3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (HSBC Waratahs)
1. Benn Robinson (HSBC Waratahs)
16. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
18. Sekope Kepu (HSBC Waratahs)
19. Radike Samo (Queensland Reds)
20. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds)
21. Brett Sheehan (Western Force)
22. Mike Harris (Queensland Reds)
23. Drew Mitchell (HSBC Waratahs)
To see the England line up, click here.
Australia v England @ London – Historical Notes
• This will be the 41st Test match between Australia and England. Australia has won 23 and England 16 while the 1997 contest in London resulted in a 15-15 draw.
• England holds a narrow 11 wins to nine lead with one drawn, from the 21 matches played on English soil. This includes victories in five of the last eight matches played.
• Australia’s 28-14 (2008) and 18-9 (2009) victories at Twickenham on recent Spring Tours represented the first instance in which the Qantas Wallabies had achieved back-to-back away victories over England in successive years.
• The two teams compete for the Cook Cup, which was established in 1997. The cup is named after Captain James Cook and is currently held by England after its 35-18 win in London during the 2010 Spring Tour.
• The first Test between Australia and England was played at Blackheath in 1909, with Australia running out the winners 9-3.
• Although the links between the countries are undoubtedly close, the intensity of the rivalry between the two is a relatively modern phenomenon. This is evidenced by the fact that only six Tests had been played prior to the 1970s. Australia and England have twice met in Rugby World Cup finals, sharing the spoils one apiece, each having prevailed on the other’s home turf.
• The 35 points posted by England during the most recent Cook Cup test at Twickenham represented the highest score tallied by the red rose through the 40 Tests played against Australia.
• The first of the two tries Kurtley Beale scored in that match represented the 100th try scored by an Australian player in Tests against England.
• Nathan Sharpe plays his 12th Test against England. This moves him ahead of Chris Latham and ties George Smith in second, behind George Gregan (16 matches), in terms of the number of appearances made by an Australian against England.
• Wycliff Palu plays his 44th Test for Australia as a No 8. This advances one ahead of the career tally achieved by the current NSW Rugby president Tim Gavin, ranking Palu as the second most capped player for the Wallabies in the position, trailing only the 57 appearances at No 8 compiled by Toutai Kefu.
• Berrick Barnes, who returns to the fullback role after not having started a match since the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship Test against South Africa at Pretoria in late September, starts on Saturday 13 points short of recording 100 Test points for the year. Barnes has already more than doubled his Test career tally in the eight matches in which he has featured, having started 2012 with 83 Test points to his name.
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