England opt for Lee Dickson over Ben Youngs at scrumhalf
Billy Vunipola will start his first match for England at number eight on Saturday
Lee Dickson passes the ball during the England training session held at Pennyhill Park. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Dickson’s explosive start to the season for Northampton has seen him win the race to partner Owen Farrell at halfback in what will be only his 10th Test appearance.
Youngs, who won two caps for the British and Irish Lions against Australia in the summer, would have been the more experienced option but head coach Stuart Lancaster has chosen the player in form.
“I’m delighted for Joel. He’s had a great week’s training and is ready for his chance,” Lancaster said.
“He has played in many high-profile games in his career so far and has a great temperament for the big occasion.”
Billy Vunipola’s bulldozing start to the season at Saracens has earned him selection ahead of Ben Morgan at number eight with the Gloucester backrow offering cover from the bench.
It will be Vunipola’s first start for England and his Twickenham debut after winning two caps as a replacement during the summer tour to Argentina.
Wing Marland Yarde will also be making his first appearance at Twickenham after scoring two tries on his debut against the Pumas in June.
“Billy Vunipola and Marland Yarde made a big impression in Argentina and it’s going to be a special occasion for them to run out at Twickenham in front of 82,000 passionate supporters for the first time,” Lancaster said.
One of the toughest selection calls facing Lancaster was in the secondrow but when Geoff Parling suffered mild concussion during training on Tuesday afternoon, the decision was simplified.
Mako Vunipola profits from Alex Corbisiero’s knee injury to start at loosehead, while hooker Dylan Hartley and prop David Wilson have recovered from respective ankle and calf injuries to take their places on the bench.
Australia triumphed 20-14 at Twickenham last November and Lancaster is looking for a successful start to an autumn series which continues against Argentina and concludes against New Zealand.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing Australia – they have made great strides under Ewen McKenzie and their new coaching team and they are formidable opponents,” Lancaster said.
“It’s eight months since we played at our home and we are looking forward to getting back there in what is a very important series for us two years out from the World Cup.
Ben Mowen will captain Australia at Twickenham after James Horwill was relieved of the post.
A second major surprise sees McKenzie elevate outhalf Quade Cooper to the vice-captaincy in preference to Horwill and Will Genia.
McKenzie insists Horwill’s slump in form was the reason behind his decision to strip him of the role he performed against the Lions in the summer.