Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell has done little wrong since breaking into the England team in 2011, particularly regarding his place kicking, but George Ford’s eye-catching display last time out against Samoa means the Bath man must be retained at number 10 for the visit of Australia.
Furthermore, after Billy Twelvetrees impressed as a second-half substitute against the Pacific Islanders, Farrell fails to make it into our England XV in either his regular spot or at centre when Michael Cheika’s side hit Twickenham.
Farrell’s England career is far from over at the age of 23, but as it was with Johnny Sexton on the British and Irish Lions’ tour Down Under 18 months ago, Ford’s playmaking abilities have highlighted the current shortcomings in the Sarries’ man’s game.
It’s fair to assume Farrell does not have a future as a centre at Test level, with the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Luther Burrell, Kyle Eastmond, Brad Barritt, Twelvetrees and possibly Sam Burgess expected to duke it out for two spots between now and next year’s World Cup.
At full-back, Mike Brown is untouchable, while Jonny May practically picks himself to the left of the Harlequins line-breaker after two tries against Samoa.
Anthony Watson didn’t fare as well on debut, so we’ve switched him with Quins’ slightly more experienced flyer Marland Yarde, who looked dangerous coming off the bench in the second half last time out.
A sprightly 10-12 channel would be complimented by the fast hands of resurgent Sale scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, who replaces struggling Leicester half-back Ben Youngs.
Our England pack is much more settled, with captain Chris Robshaw one of six forwards we would retain for the Wallabies clash.
James Haskell has to make way at blind-side after failing to catch fire on his return to the set up, but instead of bringing in Tom Wood, as Stuart Lancaster has suggested he may do, England’s coaching staff should go with the rather more athletic George Kruis.
The lock/flanker would firm up the line out and may be a better option against Australia’s talented but relatively small forwards, such as the outstanding Michael Hooper.
Props Joe Marler and David Wilson aren’t exactly world class, but they’re the best Lancaster can call upon at present, while Dylan Hartley will surely replace Rob Webber at hooker.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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