Joel Tomkins Named in England Team to Face Australia in Autumn International

Leigh WalshCorrespondent IOctober 31, 2013

BAGSHOT, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28:  Joel Tomkins passes the ball during the England training session held at Pennyhill Park on October 28, 2013 in Bagshot, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Joel Tomkins—brother of rugby league star Sam Tomkins—is set to make his Test debut for England after being named in Stuart Lancaster's starting XV for this weekend's clash with Australia. 

Tomkins' decision to switch disciplines from league to union in 2011 appears to have been a good one. The 26-year-old has been integral to Saracens' recent run of form and, after two years of fine tuning, will take his international bow. 

Tomkins will bring some additional creativity to the England team for Saturday's game. He is a powerful player who possesses excellent hands and brings his teammates into the game with his ability to offload when under pressure.

In the absence of regular starters Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, Tomkins will take his place at outside-centre with Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees for company at No. 12. 

Lancaster has also kept faith with Lee Dickson after his excellent early-season form with Northampton. Dickson impressed at scrum-half against Argentina over the summer after replacing Ben Youngs, who was away on Lions duty.

Mako Vunipola will deputise at loosehead prop for the injured Alex Corbisiero, who played a crucial role in the British and Irish Lions' success in Australia this year. Vunipola at times struggled to cope with Australia during the Lions' tour, but forwards coach Graham Rowntree believes the Saracens player is one of those who will benefit from the new scrum laws—per Sky Sports.

Geoff Parling also misses out with injury so Vunipola will be joined in the pack by brother Billy, captain Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole and Tom Youngs. 

Owen Farrell, who had a front-row seat to the Lions' victory over the Wallabies, retains his place at No. 10. While Toby Flood is a solid option, Lancaster favours Farrell due to his ability to direct proceedings with the ball in hand. 

Chris Ashton, who will be joined in the back line by Marland Yarde and Mike Brown, has enjoyed a resurgence in form after missing out on a place with the Lions. 

Ashton was scoring tries for fun in 2011 but admitted he was "very lucky" to retain his place in the England team last season—per Robert Kitson in the Guardian. He will be eager to repay Lancaster's faith come kick-off time on Saturday. 

Australia have won on four of their last six visits to Twickenham, including a 14-20 victory in last year's Autumn International between the two sides. 

With just two years until England co-host the World Cup, the home side will be eager to lay down a marker on their own patch.


England Team to Face Australia

Mike Brown, Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Marland Yarde, Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (captain), Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler, David Wilson, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Ben Foden