England starting XV vs Australia: Danny Care recalled to lineup for series decider

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Recalled: Danny Care  (Getty Images)
Recalled: Danny Care (Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has recalled the experience of Danny Care as one of three changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s series decider against Australia in Sydney.

The series is perfectly poised at 1-1 after England avenged defeat in the opener in Perth with an impressive victory in Brisbane. The decider will be the first rugby union Test match at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground since 1986.

The win in Brisbane came at a cost for England. After they lost Tom Curry to concussion in Perth, Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill also suffered tour-ending brain injuries, stretching resources up front. Jones did not call up replacements, believing there was not long enough to get them up to speed.

Northampton captain Lewis Ludlam, who has been impressive off the bench in both the first two Tests, becomes the third man to wear the No7 jersey for England in this series.

With Charlie Ewels and Joe Launchbury injured, Itoje’s absence is more difficult to cover, but Leicester’s Ollie Chessum comes into the second row for his first Test start, alongside Jonny Hill. A solid showing on Saturday would confirm Chessum’s status as one of England’s finds of the tour.

Nick Isiekwe and Jack Willis are poised to make their first appearances of the tour from the bench. Wasps flanker Willis was named on the bench last week but withdrew with an injury suffered in training. It will have been a relief for Jones that he is able to play, and he should make his first Test appearance since an horrendous knee injury in last year’s Six Nations.

Last week, Jones overhauled his backline, but he has limited himself to one tactical change this week. Jack van Poortvliet, who made his first start and won man of the match, drops to the bench, with veteran Care starting.

At 21, van Poortvliet is the oldest back on England’s bench, as he lines up alongside the London Irish 19-year-olds Will Joseph and Henry Arundell, who have both made their debuts on this tour.

Their retention, alongside starting wing Tommy Freeman, means Jonny May will not make an appearance on tour, having tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Perth.

“We go into this Test with a strong squad of 23,” said Jones. “It’s a young, inexperienced but together group who have developed well throughout this series.”

Australia have also been forced to shuffle their hand. Coach Dave Rennie has made four changes to his starting XV, and more on his bench.

Reece Hodge comes in at full-back after Australia lost three No15s to injury, while Nick Frost and Harry Wilson come into the pack. The veteran James Slipper starts on the loosehead.

James O’Connor is dropped from the bench, but Suliasi Vunivalu – a former NRL star – could make his debut in the backs.

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