By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – Scrumhalf Danny Care has paid the price for England’s poor first-half display against Japan, his first start since March, as he has been dropped from a 28-man squad named by coach Eddie Jones on Monday for the final November test against Australia.
Ben Youngs will be the probable starting scrumhalf with Richard Wigglesworth, who replaced Care after an hour against Japan, offering back up.
Northampton’s flyhalf-centre Pier Francis has been included but there was no place for centre Alex Lozowski, who was replaced by Owen Farrell at halftime after a torrid 40 minutes against Japan, or loose forward Zach Mercer.
Manu Tuilagi is again included but with Jones saying over the weekend that he still has work to do to get back to full fitness after a groin injury, he could well be culled again when he names his team on Thursday.
Jones will be looking for an immediate improvement from Saturday when his team of 11-changes from the New Zealand defeat were down 15-10 at halftime before coming through to win 35-15.
They face Australia on Saturday seeking a sixth successive victory over the Wallabies, who ended their own poor run with a win in Italy.
“He’s my old mate, he’s always at his best when they’re under pressure,” Jones said of Australia coach Michael Cheika.
“He loves that, he’s a street fighter, so it does make them dangerous but at the same time we’ve had a tough year too and we don’t mind a scrap either, so it should be a good scrap.
“I think they understand where we’re strong and we understand where they’re strong, and it’s going to be a battle of who can take away each other’s strengths and find a way to probe their weaknesses.”
England 28-man training squad
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)
Jamie George (Saracens)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs)
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs)
Brad Shields (Wasps)
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)
Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)
Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)
Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
Piers Francis (Northampton Saints)
Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Radnedge)