England coach Clive Woodward today made two changes to his side for Saturday’s Test against Australia in Melbourne, promoting Gloucester props Phil Vickery and Trevor Woodman into the starting XV.
After England’s historic victory over New Zealand on Saturday, Kyran Bracken retained his place at scrum-half despite Matt Dawson’s return to fitness after a thigh injury.
And Josh Lewsey, who required stitches in a head wound after being stamped on in Wellington, will also start.
Woodward said today he had always planned to make a couple of changes from the Test against the All Blacks, and the selection of Vickery to the fold marks the 27-year-old’s full international return from back surgery.
Vickery missed the entire Six Nations and will start his first Test since the autumn victories over New Zealand, Australia and South Africa after featuring in only four games since regaining full fitness.
He will not be short of intense match practice either, after captaining England against the Barbarians and New Zealand Maori, either side of turning out at Twickenham for Gloucester’s Zurich Premiership Grand Final defeat to Wasps.
Vickery then came on as a half-time replacement for Jason Leonard and played a key role in last Saturday’s victory over New Zealand.
Within two minutes of entering the fray, the 27-year-old found himself packing down on England’s five-metre line with only three men behind him after Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio.
He, along with hooker Steve Thompson and Graham Rowntree, came in for hearty praise for their performance in that 10-minute spell from Woodward and captain Martin Johnson.
Rowntree, though, missed out as Woodman returns to the fray after turning in an impressive performance against the Maori a week ago last Monday.
Leonard drops to a reshuffled replacement’s bench, which features Wasps’ Alex King in for Paul Grayson, Dawson for Andy Gomarsall, Leeds’ Mark Regan for Dorian West.
Winger Dan Luger, lock Steve Borthwick and back-row cover Joe Worsley retain their places amongst the replacements.
England team to play Australia in Melbourne on Saturday, June 21:
J Lewsey (Wasps); J Robinson (Sale), W Greenwood (Harlequins), M Tindall (Bath), B Cohen (Northampton); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), K Bracken (Saracens); T Woodman (Gloucester), S Thompson (Northampton), P Vickery (Gloucester), M Johnson (Leicester, cpt), B Kay (Leicester), R Hill (Saracens), N Back (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps)
Replacements: M Regan (Leeds), J Leonard (Harlequins), S Borthwick (Bath), J Worsley (Wasps), M Dawson (Northampton), A King (Wasps), D Luger (Harlequins).