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Lawes to captain England against Wallabies

3 minute read

Veteran flanker Courtney Lawes has retained the England rugby captaincy ahead of the returning Owen Farrell to face Australia in their Perth Test on Saturday.

Eddie Jones has revealed Owen Farrell is "very unhappy" about being overlooked as England captain for Saturday's Test against the Wallabies, with the coach sticking with Courtney Lawes.

Farrell has been England skipper since 2018 but missed the Six Nations due to injury with veteran flanker Lawes stepping in.

Farrell's last Test came against Australia in November 2021, helping pilot the hosts to a 32-15 win.

While he was named at inside centre for the Perth Test, Jones said Farrell needed to focus on his own game.

The master coach said the star playmaker didn't take the news well.

"He was very unhappy," Jones said of Farrell, who was key to England's three-Test sweep on their last tour to Australia in 2016.

"We want Owen to be at his best and he's been out of the side for a while so it's an opportunity for him to play three Tests back to back and produce his best.

"Owen's a bloke that expresses his feelings clearly and he wants to be captain and when I told him he wasn't going to be captain, he wasn't very happy.

"But that's OK ... we feel at this stage (that's) the best thing for the team and for Owen."

Farrell will line up between exciting young five-eighth Marcus Smith and outside centre Joe Marchant, while veteran Danny Care will start at halfback.

Care hasn't played for England since 2018 when he fell out with Jones.

"We've been watching Danny closely and his form has been very good for his club," Jones said.

"Ever since he's come into camp he's impressed and the speed of the ruck ball suits his running game, so we feel like it's a great opportunity, particularly at the Optus Stadium where the ground's hard and fast that will suit his style of play."

Tom Curry is open-side flanker while No.8 Billy Vunipola makes his first appearance for England since early 2021.

In the front row hooker Jamie George joins props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart, while Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill are locks.

Three players could make their England debuts after being named on the bench - centre Guy Porter, halfback Jack van Poortvliet and exciting teenage fullback Henry Arundell.

Porter, 25, was born in England but raised in Australia and played for Sydney University.

He was a Brumbies squad member in 2020 but didn't get a start and moved to England to play for Leicester when COVID-19 wrecked the Australian season.

Jones liked his versatility and his hard edge.

"He's tough - I like his toughness," Jones said. "He's done exceptionally well for his club, in the champion club team.

"He played most of the year at winger but in the last part of the season he played 12 and can also play 13, so he's got that versatility so he's a great bench player for us."

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