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Friday, June 5, 1998 Published at 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK

Sport: Rugby Union

Young England given little hope

The England coach, Clive Woodward: under fire

A match against Australia is tough at the best of times, but with an inexperienced team and an injured captain England will need a great performance in Saturday's Cook Cup Test.

England coach Clive Woodward is pitting five new faces against the mighty Wallaby side following the withdrawal of stars including Lawrence Dallaglio, Jeremy Guscott and, on Tuesday, Matt Dawson, the captain.

[ image: Jonny Wilkinson preparing for Saturday's Test]
Jonny Wilkinson preparing for Saturday's Test
Those winning their first cap include Jonny Wilkinson, the teenage fly-half, as well as Scott Benton, Richmond wing Spencer Brown, Saracens pair Steve Ravenscroft and Ben Sturnham and Sale flanker Pat Sanderson.

It will be up to players such as Tony Diprose, the new captain, and locks Danny Grewcock and Gareth Archer to provide the inspiration in a team with only 72 Test appearances between them.

The England tour manager, Tom Uttley, is staying positive. He said: "Training has gone well, with things coming together far better than perhaps we could have expected. On Saturday, they've got to go out there and play their socks off. It is an enormous challenge."

'Pathetic treatment'

However, Uttley's faith in his players is not shared by the Australian critics. They have been vociferous in their views, with Mark Ella, the former Wallaby fly-half, branding the match "a joke and a waste of time" because of the lack of top England names.

He said: "Could you imagine the outcry in England if John Eales and half a dozen of his Wallaby mates decided not to visit Twickenham for the next Cook Cup game.

"Why should we in Australia cop this pathetic treatment?"

The Australian public has also shown its disapproval. Only 22,000 tickets have been sold, half the capacity of the Sun Corp Stadium in Brisbane.

The home side, led by Eales and featuring winger Ben Tune, who has scored in his last two games against England, have been warned not to expect an easy game by their former fly-half, Michael Lynagh. He told the players to guard against complacency.

But with big wins in their last two Cook Cup matches they are overwhelming favourites to put England's troubled southern hemisphere tour further in the mire.


Australia: Matthew Burke, Ben Tune, Daniel Herbert, Tim Horan, Joe Roff; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan; Toutai Kefu, David Wilson, Matt Cockbain, John Eales (capt), Tom Bowman, Andrew Blades, Phil Kearns, Richard Harry. Reserves: Chris Whitaker, Nathan Grey, Jason Little, Willie Ofahengaue, Owen Finegan, Dan Crowley, Jeremy Paul.

England: Tim Stimpson, Spencer Brown, Matt Perry, Steve Ravenscroft, Austin Healey; Jonny Wilkinson, Scott Benton; Tony Diprose (capt), Pat Sanderson, Ben Sturnham, Gareth Archer, Danny Grewcock, Phil Vickery, Richard Cockerill, Graham Rowntree. Reserves: Stuart Potter, Dominic Chapman, Alex King, Richard Pool-Jones, Dave Simms, Duncan Bell, Phil Greening.

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