James Horwill, the high-calibre lock whose iron will just about held the Wallabies together during the summer series with the Lions until the tourists broke them in the final half-hour of the deciding Test, has been relieved of the captaincy ahead of tomorrow's meeting with England at Twickenham.
According to coach Ewen McKenzie, the Queenslander needs to concentrate on rediscovering the best of himself rather than waste his energy trying to bring the best out of everyone else.
Ben Mowen, the excellent Brumbies back-rower, will be skipper, with – wait for it – Quade Cooper as vice-captain. Yes, that's the same Quade Cooper branded as "toxic" by McKenzie's predecessor, Robbie Deans. "I was a bit speechless," the outside-half admitted yesterday after being told of his promotion. "To have that title next to your name is pretty special."
Cooper played no part in the Lions series, despite straining every sinew on behalf of Queensland in an early tour match. "When I was out of the team I looked at the things that are most important in my life and where rugby sat in it," he said.
"How you act as a person away from the game roll into how you act as a player around the team. I've learnt that if you do the right thing, more often than not the right thing happens to you."
The wing Nick Cummins and the flanker Scott Fardy are fit after recovering from a broken hand and an eye problem respectively, while Matt Toomua is preferred to Christian Leali'ifano at inside centre.
On the same weekend Sam Tomkins plays for England Rugby League team against Ireland, his brother Joel will become a dual code international after Stuart Lancaster named him at outside centre where he will playing alongside Billy Twelvetrees, who has made just five Test appearances
Lee Dickson has been preferred to the more experienced Ben Youngs at scrum-half based on his superior club form, Marland Yarde wins his second cap on the left wing and Billy Vunipola makes his full debut at No 8.
Lancaster has lofty ambitions for the autumn despite naming an inexperienced starting XV against Australia containing only 213 caps, 12 fewer than the 225 on the bench.
"In the back of your mind you think about two years' time and giving opportunities to players who you think will be around at that point," said Lancaster. (© Independent News Service)
England – M Brown; C Ashton, J Tomkins, B Twelvetrees, M Yarde; O Farrell, L Dickson; M Vunipola, T Youngs, D Cole, J Launchbury, C Lawes, T Wood, C Robshaw (capt), B Vunipola. Reps: D Hartley, J Marler, D Wilson, D Attwood, B Morgan, B Youngs, T Flood, B Foden.
Australia – I Folau; A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, M Toomua, N Cummins; Q Cooper, W Genia; J Slipper, S Moore, B Alexander, S Timani, J Horwill, S Fardy, M Hooper, B Mowen (capt). Reps: S Fainga'a, B Robinson, S Kepu, K Douglas, B McCalman, N White, C Leali'ifano, B Foley.