Owen Farrell, Jonny May and Joe Launchbury will start for England against Australia on Saturday, with Anthony Watson switching to fullback and Maro Itoje named among the replacements by coach Eddie Jones on Thursday.
After a slow-paced victory over Argentina last week and only Samoa to come after this weekend, Jones was always likely to return to his strongest-looking side.
That will always include Farrell, shortlisted again this week for the world player of the year award and who comes in at inside centre having been rested much against his will last week. He teams up again with flyhalf George Ford and outside centre Jonathan Joseph, with Henry Slade dropping to the bench.
May has recovered from injury to start on the right wing with Watson starting at fullback, where he played for an hour against Argentina after Mike Brown went off with concussion which has ruled him out of Saturday’s game.
With Elliot Daly on the other wing Jones will field a back three full of pace and counter-attacking verve – something that was glaringly absent last week – and could see a turning point in his long-term selection policy as Brown, who Jones likes immensely, faces a fight to return. The only change in the pack sees Launchbury in for George Kruis at lock alongside Courtney Lawes, who wins his 60th cap.
Itoje, rested last week and also shortlisted for the world player award, is on the bench.
England will need to be much sharper this week against an Australia team who have won five and drawn one of their last six games, including a rare success against New Zealand.
However, the Wallabies have lost four in a row against England and their only win in the teams’ last seven meetings was in the Rugby World Cup pool game that ended the hosts’ interest in the tournament two years ago.
In an attempt to replicate some of the challenges of playing in the World Cup in Japan in 2019, Jones has changed his team’s routine this week, briefly moving their base to Syon Park in West London and switching their heaviest training day from Tuesday to Wednesday.
“We will have to be effective in everything we do this weekend to win,” he said on Thursday. “This is going to be a great challenge, as we know Australia have been in great form towards the end of their season.”
Australia, who beat Wales last week, name their team later on Thursday.
England team to face Australia on Saturday: 15 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby 27 caps), 14 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers 27 caps), 13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby 34 caps), 12 Owen Farrell (Saracens 52 caps), 11 Elliot Daly (Wasps 14 caps), 10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers 38 caps), 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers 71 caps), 1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens 43 caps), 2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints 87 caps) captain, 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers 75 caps), 4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps 45 caps), 5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints 59 caps), 6 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins 57 caps), 7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby 2 caps), 8 Nathan Hughes (Wasps 11 caps)
Replacements: 16 Jamie George (Saracens 18 caps), 17 Joe Marler (Harlequins 51 caps), 18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs 3 caps), 19 Maro Itoje (Saracens 12 caps), 20 Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs 1 cap), 21 Danny Care (Harlequins 74 caps), 22 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs 8 caps), 23 Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby 3 caps)