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Page last updated at 10:35 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Vickery excited by Aussie reunion

Phil Vickery
Vickery will win his 66th cap, joining Neil Back on the all-time England list

Recalled tight-head prop Phil Vickery says losing the England captaincy has added "fuel for the fire" ahead of Saturday's meeting with Australia.

Steve Borthwick took over from Vickery, sole survivor of England's 2003 World Cup win, as skipper this autumn.

"I was disappointed but you don't hang your hat on that," said the Wasps prop.

"If you get hooked up on accolades you are a pretty sad individual. I love playing for my country. The day that candle burns out, I'll let you know."

Vickery, the captaincy choice of previous head coach Brian Ashton, was unavailable for last summer's two-Test tour of New Zealand, when Borthwick took the reins.

With Vickery under increasing pressure for his starting place from Matt Stevens, Martin Johnson opted to retain Borthwick over his World Cup-winning team-mate when he took over as England manager.

Stevens got the nod to start last Saturday's 39-13 win over the Pacific Islanders, with Vickery coming off the bench in the final quarter.

But this week the roles are reversed, with the Wasps veteran, 32, reunited with fellow prop Andrew Sheridan, with whom he has enjoyed success against Australian front rows in the past.

Andrew Sheridan (left) and Phil Vickery
Tom Fordyce blog
"They will change things, they will try things, you will be given an opportunity," Vickery told BBC Sport.

"The days of guys sitting on the bench for years on end, not getting on the field, are gone. It's an opportunity for me this weekend - I'm going to try to put pressure on, because Matt will be back.

"It's about us creating an atmosphere, and workman-like relationships, to push each other, and ultimately for the benefit of the England team.

"I want to play for England and be involved with this team. When I stand on the field and sing the national anthem, I mean it."

As well as the 2003 World Cup final, Vickery can also fondly recall his part in victories over the Wallabies at Twickenham in November 2005 and last year's World Cup quarter-final in Marseille.

But the Wasps veteran, set to win his 66th cap, has warned that Australia will be no pushover this Saturday.

Vickery eager to grasp opportunity

"It doesn't matter if you've got one cap or 50 caps, you know you're going to have to raise your game a considerable amount to compete with these guys," he added.

"I've been fortunate enough to play Australia a few times and there is no bigger Test match.

"When you look at the Australian team and how they've progressed, particularly in the forwards, since 2007, they've had a dramatic improvement.

"As always they don't go away and moan, they go away and improve, analyse what they need to, and of all the teams they've impressed me most.

"What happened in Marseille happened back then. Memories are great things but ultimately it's about this weekend and I've been around long enough to know the difference between success and failure, at international level, is the small details."

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see also
England recall Palmer & Vickery
11 Nov 08 |  English
Giteau back for revamped Aussies
11 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott column
09 Nov 08 |  English
England 39-13 Pacific Islanders
08 Nov 08 |  English
England 12-10 Australia
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
England win Rugby World Cup
22 Nov 03 |  Internationals


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