Rugby-England blood two new caps, 'Tongan Thor' returns for Australia


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn International - Wales v Australia - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain - November 20, 2021 Australia's Taniela Tupou in action REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

SYDNEY (Reuters) - England coach Eddie Jones has rolled the dice on two new caps and a first-time starter in his backline as the tourists bid to keep the series alive in Saturday's second test against Australia in Brisbane.

Winger Tommy Freeman and centre Guy Porter will play their first internationals at Lang Park, while Jack van Poortvliet starts at scrumhalf after making his debut with a try-scoring cameo at the end of the 30-28 defeat last week in Perth.

"We have decided to make changes in our back line, they were tough calls but we feel they will strengthen the team," Jones said in a news release.

"There are opportunities to attack against Australia which we can take."

As expected, Sam Underhill will play at openside flanker in an otherwise unchanged pack after Tom Curry suffered a concussion in the series-opener and was sent home.

Joe Marchant and Joe Cokanasiga make way for the debutants, while Danny Care drops to the bench to back up van Poortvliet.

Outside back Henry Arundell, brought on tour as an apprentice player, is again included among the replacements after the teenager scored a fine try with his first touch in test rugby last week.

Australia coach Dave Rennie earlier made seven changes to his side, mostly forced by injury and the suspension of lock Darcy Swain after his red card for a headbutt in Perth.

Tighthead prop Taniela "Tongan Thor" Tupou returns to the front row after a long-standing calf injury and Jordan Petaia will start his first test at fullback in place of Tom Banks, who suffered a horrific arm break in Perth.

Petaia got his chance at the back because Andrew Kellaway, who stepped in for Banks last week, suffered a hamstring injury in training. Tom Wright replaces Kellaway on the right wing.

"He's going to have to boss the game from back there and we think he can do the job," Rennie said of Petaia. "This is the best I've seen Jordy, he's physically excellent."

In other backfield changes, Hunter Paisami came in for Len Ikitau, who has a sore calf, to form a powerful centre partnership with Samu Kerevi.

Swain's suspension means a start at Lang Park for Matt Philip with another ACT Brumbies lock, Nick Frost, set for his debut off the bench.

Australia: 15-Jordan Petaia, 14-Tom Wright, 13-Hunter Paisami, 12-Samu Kerevi, 11-Marika Koroibete, 10-Noah Lolesio, 9-Nic White, 8-Rob Valetini, 7-Michael Hooper (captain), 6-Rob Leota, 5-Cadeyrn Neville, 4-Matt Philip, 3-Taniela Tupou, 2-Dave Porecki, 1-Angus Bell

Replacements: 16-Folau Fainga'a, 17-Scott Sio, 18-James Slipper, 19-Nick Frost, 20-Pete Samu, 21-Jake Gordon, 22-James O'Connor, 23-Izaia Perese

England: 15-Freddie Steward, 14-Jack Nowell, 13-Guy Porter, 12-Owen Farrell, 11-Tommy Freeman, 10-Marcus Smith, 9-Jack van Poortvliet, 8-Billy Vunipola, 7-Sam Underhill, 6-Courtney Lawes (captain), 5-Jonny Hill, 4-Maro Itoje, 3-Will Stuart, 2-Jamie George, 1-Ellis Genge

Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Joe Heyes, 19-Ollie Chessum, 20-Lewis Ludlam, 21-Jack Willis, 22-Danny Care, 23-Henry Arundell

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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