Owen Farrell to start at flyhalf for England vs Australia

Owen Farrell to start at flyhalf for England vs Australia

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 4:01 p.m. ET

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) England coach Eddie Jones has selected Owen Farrell at flyhalf and dropped George Ford for the first rugby test against Australia on Saturday.

It is Farrell's first start at No. 10 since Jones took over coaching England in November. Saracens' Farrell last started at flyhalf for England in October in a defeat to Australia which knocked then-coach Stuart Lancaster's side out of the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham.

Ford missed six kicks out of seven at goal during an England victory over Wales two weeks ago. Farrell started at inside center during its Six Nations Grand Slam campaign.

Luther Burrell will take over in Farrell's spot despite being called into the touring party only after Manu Tuilagi was ruled out with a torn hamstring.


''We have picked a side to win in Brisbane,'' Jones said. ''As always, selection was tight, and naturally players are disappointed.''

England, which has won only three of 17 tests in Australia, had its worst defeat in test rugby in Brisbane in 1998 when a mostly second-string side was beaten 76-0.

Australia also named its team on Thursday, with ACT Brumbies lock Rory Arnold among three players set to make a starting test debut, joined by Queensland center Samu Kerevi and Western Force utility back Dane Haylett-Petty.

The Australian Rugby Union said that at 2.08 meters (6-foot-8), Arnold will be the tallest player ever to wear a Wallabies jersey, surpassing Dan Vickerman at 2.04, and Will Skelton - a member of the 2015 World Cup squad - and Bill Campbell at 2.03.

Australia coach Michael Cheika selected Arnold in the second row alongside 60-test veteran Rob Simmons. Kerevi will join fellow Fijian-born Tevita Kuridrani in the centers in the first of three tests. The teams will play again on June 18 in Melbourne and June 25 in Sydney.

''We're big bodies and we know the way we want to play,'' Kerevi said. ''Cheik bought us in for our physicality.''

Hooker Stephen Moore will play his 103rd test when he captains the Wallabies for the 12th time. Former captain James Horwill was on the bench, as was halfback Nick Frisby, who will make his test debut if he comes on.

Cheika left Israel Folau at fullback despite Folau's strong form at center for the New South Wales Waratahs. Also retained was the mobile back row of No. 8 David Pocock and flankers Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy. Having Pocock at the back of the scrum creates room for him and Hooper, both regular opensides.

Christian Leali'ifano was considered a leading contender for the inside center role but will start on the bench after arriving in the camp only on Wednesday following the birth of his first child.

Cheika is expecting a tough first test.

''I've said before, if it means aggressive footy, that's good, the game's meant to be aggressive,'' Cheika said. ''It's a contact sport and we love that, and respect to our opponents if they bring it on.''



Australia: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Rory Arnold, Greg Holmes, Stephen Moore (captain), Scott Sio. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, James Horwill, Dean Mumm, Sean McMahon, Nick Frisby, Christian Leali'ifano.

England: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell, Marland Yarde, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, George Kruis, Mario Itoje, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (captain), Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Matt Mullan, Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Danny Care, Jack Nowell.