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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 November 2005, 14:09 GMT
England leave out Van Gisbergen
Mark Van Gisbergen
New Zealand-born Van Gisbergen will start on the bench
England coach Andy Robinson has opted for Josh Lewsey at full-back instead of Mark van Gisbergen for the Test against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

The New Zealand-born Van Gisbergen had been tipped for an England debut after impressing domestically for Wasps but club colleague Lewsey was preferred.

Northampton wing Ben Cohen earned a recall, as did fellow World Cup winners Mike Tindall and Phil Vickery.

In the back row, Worcester's Pat Sanderson will start at blindside.

Van Gisbergen's omission after several low-key recent performances means Sale's Charlie Hodgson will shoulder the place-kicking duties from fly-half.

Hodgson has bedded down as England's first choice number 10 in the absence of World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson but his kicking has often proved erratic.

Ben Cohen
Saints wing Cohen has impressed in the Premiership

England have no other recognised kicker in their starting XV, with both van Gisbergen and Bath's Olly Barkley on the bench.

"Charlie had a serious injury in 2003 which prevented him going to the World Cup. Every year since then he's improved. He's a very good international fly-half and I've no doubt he'll kick goals at the weekend," said Robinson.

"Mark has come a long way in a short time and it's the first time he's been involved in the England set-up."

Robinson's new-look team retains just six players from the side that started the 2003 World Cup final in Australia - Cohen, Tindall, Lewsey, Matt Dawson, Vickery and Steve Thompson.

Cohen, whose last England cap came off the bench in the 19-13 Six Nations loss to Ireland earlier this year, failed to make Robinson's initial squad but has been called back after an upturn in his form and motivation for Northampton.

Ben Cohen is playing with a smile on his face
England coach Andy Robinson

"Ben was a world class player but like all players he has had dips in form," said the coach.

"But through the work he's done he has got himself playing to the levels when he was a real success and he has forced himself in.

"He's scoring lots of tries, his work rate off the ball is good and he is playing with a smile on his face."

Tindall returns after missing most of last season with shoulder and foot problems, and will partner Newcastle's Jamie Noon, who broke through in the Six Nations earlier this year.

The impressive Lewsey switches to full-back from wing despite playing centre for Wasps, while at scrum-half Wasps' veteran Dawson has displaced Leicester's Harry Ellis, who drops to the bench.

In the front row, Vickery earns a recall after a series of injuries, including a broken arm and back problems, while Steve Thompson is retained at hooker and giant Sale star Andrew Sheridan is preferred to Bath's Matt Stevens at prop.

The Bath pairing of Steve Borthwick and Danny Grewcock will pack down at lock, in the absence through injury of either Wasps' Simon Shaw or Gloucester's Alex Brown.

Leicester's Martin Corry will continue to captain the side from number eight, while Sanderson, in for the injured Joe Worsley, will win his first England cap since the 2001 tour of North America.

England have won just of seven of their last 16 Tests, with Robinson, at the helm for eight of those, victorious in just four.

England also play New Zealand on 19 November and Samoa seven days later.

"Australia are our fiercest rivals, in all sports," Robinson insisted. "We got to 19-15 against them last year and they still had the know-how to come back."

England team to face Australia on 12 November:
J Lewsey (Wasps); M Cueto (Sale), J Noon (Newcastle), M Tindall (Gloucester), B Cohen (Northampton); C Hodgson (Sale), M Dawson (Wasps); A Sheridan (Sale), S Thompson (Northampton), P Vickery (Gloucester); S Borthwick (Bath), D Grewcock (Bath); P Sanderson (Worcester), L Moody (Leicester), M Corry (Leicester, capt).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath), M Stevens (Bath), L Deacon (Leicester), C Jones (Sale), H Ellis (Leicester), O Barkley (Bath), M Van Gisbergen (Wasps).

Interview: England head coach Andy Robinson

Interview: England's Ben Cohen

Van Gisbergen makes England squad
03 Nov 05 |  Internationals
England convert happy to face NZ
27 Sep 05 |  English


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