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Lawes to captain England against Wallabies

A strong half from England secures the win for the hosts at Twickenham

Veteran flanker Courtney Lawes has retained the England captaincy to face the Wallabies despite Owen Farrell's return for Saturday's Test in Perth.

Named at inside centre, Farrell was tipped to return from injury as skipper but coach Eddie Jones has instead opted for Lawes, who led the team through the Six Nations.

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"We want Owen (Farrell) to be at his best and he's been out of the side for a while so it's an opportunity for him to play three Tests back-to-back and produce his best," Jones told reporters.

"We feel that this is the best thing for the team and Owen because he's a very important player for us. He's played 96 Tests for England, he's won every trophy outside of a World Cup and he's a very important player.

"Given the time he's had out, we want him to play these three Tests and concentrate on being the best player he can be."

It's the first time since 2018 that Farrell has been overlooked as captain.

Farrell suffered injuries to both ankles which ruled him out of the entire Six Nations campaign with his last Test coming against Australia in November 2021, helping pilot the hosts to a 32-15 win.

He will line up between exciting young five-eighth Marcus Smith and outside centre Joe Marchant, whilst veteran Danny Care will start at halfback alongside his Harlequins teammate Smith, ending a four-year gap between Tests.

"We've been watching Danny very closely and he's been very good for his club," Jones believes.

"We bought him for the Baa-Baas week and he's impressed ever since. The speed of the ruck ball suits his ruck game so we feel like it's a good opportunity, particularly at Optus Stadium where the ground is hard and fast that it'll suit his game."

Tom Curry is open-side flanker while No.8 Billy Vunipola makes his first appearance for England since early 2021.

In the front row hooker Jamie George joins props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart, while Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill are locks.

There are three debutants on the bench, including former Sydney Uni and Brumby product Guy Porter.

He is joined by teenage sensation and apprentice player Henry Arundell and halfback Jack van Poortvliet

"Picking the 23 out of this group of 36 was difficult," added Jones in a statement.

"We feel we have a well-balanced team which is ready for this improving Australia team. 

"We'll take it to them from the start."

England (15-1): Freddie Steward; Jack Nowell, Joe Marchant, Owen Farrell, Joe Cokanasiga; Marcus Smith, Danny Care; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Will Stuart; Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill; Courtney Lawes (capt), Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Joe Heyes, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack van Poortlviet, Guy Porter, Henry Arundell

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