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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Farrell & Vickery to face Aussies
Andy Farrell and Phil Vickery
Farrell and Vickery both came off the bench against Tonga

England v Australia
Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Saturday, 6 October
Kick-off: 1400 BST
Live on BBC Radio 5live and the BBC Sport website

England have named Andy Farrell at inside centre for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against Australia.

The former rugby league star's form has been questioned but coach Brian Ashton is banking on him forming a decisive midfield link with Jonny Wilkinson.

Phil Vickery replaces Martin Corry as captain, but the Leicester man retains his place in an unchanged back row.

Jason Robinson returns from injury at full-back, while Mathew Tait partners Farrell at outside centre.

Matt Stevens, who kept Vickery out of the team in England's last match against Tonga, has to settle for a place on the bench alongside Lawrence Dallaglio, Joe Worsley and Dan Hipkiss.

606: DEBATE
S83

Veteran Mark Regan has been picked to start ahead of George Chuter at hooker, while Lewis Moody keeps his place at open-side flanker with specialist number seven Tom Rees out of the squad altogether.

Josh Lewsey has been asked to switch positions once again, moving back to the wing after featuring at full-back in the last two games.

Lewsey takes over from Sale's Mark Cueto, who has not recovered from a hamstring strain against Tonga.

Simon Shaw makes his expected return in the second row in place of Steve Borthwick.

Ashton has made one of the boldest selection decisions of his career by picking Farrell to start in Marseille.

The former Great Britain rugby league captain has been a controversial selection in England colours since switching codes, with many questioning his lack of pace and experience at the elite level in union.

But an encouraging display after coming off the bench for Olly Barkley in England's 36-20 win over Tonga on Friday has brought the 31-year-old back in favour.

Andy Farrell has been a threat with his kicking game, defensive work and general leadership and game management

England coach Brian Ashton

Ashton is gambling on Farrell's physical presence and kicking game being enough to keep the potent Australia backline on the defensive.

"For this game we need the direct approach Andy Farrell brings," said Ashton.

"He has been a threat to opposition lines in terms of his kicking game, defensive work and general leadership and game management.

"He has looked sharper and sharper as the tournament has gone on.

"I've got full confidence that Jonny Wilkinson and Andy Farrell will sit well together."

One of the hardest things for him (Farrell) at the moment is just taking all the knives out of his back

Jason Robinson

But BBC 5live rugby commentator Matt Dawson, who won the World Cup with England in 2003, said: "I can't grasp what Farrell has done to warrant being brought into the side.

"Yes, he scored a try against a tiring Tongan side. In pressure games, against Ireland at Croke Park and against South Africa at Stade de France a couple of weeks ago, he was found wanting.

"When you are in a quarter-final of a World Cup against Australia you need players who have as much knowledge of the game as possible because games are won and lost on the tiniest of margins, the tiniest of decisions."

Robinson, though, leapt to the defence of his former league colleague.

"One of the hardest things for Farrell at the moment is just taking all the knives out of his back," said Robinson.

Ashton also explained that his decision to promote Vickery back to the starting line-up in place of the more mobile Stevens was part of a plan to take Australia on in the scrums.

"It is important we get the most experienced players in the front five on the field this week," said Ashton, who has picked Andrew Sheridan, who dismantled Australia's scrum in a superb display on his full debut in 2005, at loose-head prop.

"It will be a massive battle area."

England prop Andrew Sheridan
Sheridan's strength in the front row will be a key factor for England

Ashton is looking to a heavyweight front row of Sheridan, Regan and Vickery to exploit one of the Wallabies' perceived areas of weakness.

"The changes in the front row signify we are looking for a strong emphasis scrummaging-wise at the weekend," he said.

"It's going to be a massive battle, and we're happy we've got the right choice on the field."

The 22-man squad features eight players - Wilkinson, Robinson, Vickery, Lewsey, Kay, Dallaglio, Corry and Moody - who played or were on the bench when England played Australia in the 2003 World Cup final.

"We considered all options in every area of the field," said Ashton.

"Given the nature of the game and importance of it, it was important to go with players who've been in this sort of situation before."


England: Jason Robinson; Paul Sackey, Mathew Tait, Andy Farrell, Josh Lewsey; Jonny Wilkinson, Andy Gomarsall; Andrew Sheridan, Mark Regan, Phil Vickery (captain), Simon Shaw, Ben Kay, Martin Corry, Lewis Moody, Nick Easter.
Replacements: George Chuter, Matt Stevens, Lawrence Dallaglio, Joe Worsley, Peter Richards, Olly Barkley, Dan Hipkiss.


SEE ALSO
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment
Australia suffer Staniforth blow
03 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Aussies wary of Wilkinson factor
02 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union


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