Australia v England: Courtney Lawes to captain tourists as Danny Care and Billy Vunipola return
|Venue: Perth Stadium, Australia Date: Saturday, 2 July Kick-off: 10:55 BST|
|Coverage: Follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.|
Courtney Lawes will captain England in Saturday’s first Test against Australia, as veterans Danny Care and Billy Vunipola also start.
Lawes leads the side in Perth ahead of ex-skipper Owen Farrell, who is back at inside centre following injury.
Scrum-half Care will win his first cap in almost four years, while number eight Vunipola’s brother Mako is among the replacements.
Marcus Smith starts at 10 and uncapped wing Henry Arundell is on the bench.
The teenager is one of three uncapped players among the replacements, along with Jack van Poortvliet and Guy Porter.
Farrell – who last played for England in November – is overlooked as captain by head coach Eddie Jones for the first time since 2018, with Lawes having taken on the role last autumn and in the 2022 Six Nations.
Having recovered from recent ankle injuries, Farrell will play alongside outside centre Joe Marchant in the first of a three-Test series.
Joe Cokanasiga will play his first Test for a year on the left wing following injury and Covid-19, while Van Poortvliet’s inclusion means there is no place in the matchday 23 for Harry Randall.
Earlier on Thursday, lock Charlie Ewels was ruled out of the tour because of a knee injury and will be replaced by Bristol’s Sam Jeffries.
“We feel we have a well-balanced team which is ready for this improving Australia team,” Jones said. “We’ll take it to them from the start.”
For Australia, lock Cadeyrn Neville will make his debut at the age of 33, while the experienced duo of Quade Cooper and Nic White start at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.
England – looking to bounce back from a Six Nations in which they claimed just two victories – have beaten Australia in the past eight games between the two, winning their last series in the country 3-0 in 2016.
England team to face Australia: Steward; Nowell, Marchant, Farrell, Cokanasiga; Smith, Care; Genge, George, Stuart, Itoje, Hill, Lawes (capt), Curry, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Heyes, Chessum, Ludlam, Van Poortlviet, Porter, Arundell.