Johnson recalls Wilkinson and Thompson
November 4, 2009
Jonny Wilkinson returns at fly-half for England © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has recalled two of his World Cup winning team-mates for their opening November Test against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
Jonny Wilkinson returns at fly-half as expected, while hooker Steve Thompson will start his first Test since the 2006 Six Nations.
The recall caps a remarkable turnaround for the Brive hooker, who retired from the game on medical advice following a neck injury only to make a dramatic return. Johnson has called on Tim Payne and David Wilson as his props, with Phil Vickery and Andrew Sheridan sidelined by injury.
Ugo Monye fills the void at fullback following an injury to Delon Armitage and Shane Geraghty slots in at inside-centre after a superb start to the season for Northampton. His domestic team-mate, wrecking-ball lock Courtney Lawes, is set for a surprise debut off the bench alongside Biarritz centre Ayoola Erinle.
Danny Care starts at scrum-half and will be hoping for some quick service from the all-Leicester back-row of Tom Croft, Lewis Moody and Jordan Crane. The Leicester link continues in the second-row, where Louis Deacon joins skipper Steve Borthwick.
In-form London Irish No.9 Paul Hodgson must make do with a place on the bench, as must Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley. Bath prop Duncan Bell will win his third cap, and first since 2005, if called upon.
Johnson has praised the impact made by Thompson since his return to the international landscape.
"He did retire from the game and probably realised what he was missing and had the desire to come back," Johnson told Sky Sports News. "He has got himself into shape and has played pretty well and worked very hard. He has been fantastic with us this last 10 days, as he was in the summer. It's good to have that experience among some of the younger guys."
England: U Monye (Harlequins); M Cueto (Sale Sharks), D Hipkiss (Leicester), S Geraghty (Northampton), M Banahan (Bath); J Wilkinson (Toulon), D Care (Harlequins); T Payne (Wasps), S Thompson (Brive), D Wilson (Bath), L Deacon (Leicester), S Borthwick (Saracens, capt), T Croft (Leicester), L Moody (Leicester), J Crane (Leicester).
Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), D Bell (Bath), C Lawes (Northampton), J Haskell (Stade Francais), P Hodgson (London Irish), A Goode (Brive), A Erinle (Biarritz)
"I think in a couple of seasons London Irish can be a genuine force and contenders for the Premiership." Tom Hamilton talks to Brian Smith
"I hate this talk of survival, we are going there to compete." Tom Hamilton talks to London Welsh's Justin Burnell and Matt Corker
The latest Week in Pictures takes in Madagascar, Nick Cummins and all the latest photographs from Super Rugby
Tom Hamilton looks at the implications of Ulster's state of upheaval on the Ireland team