Jonathan Joseph
England will hope that Jonathan Joseph's return to the midfield will help them to avoid an early World Cup exit Getty

All eyes will be on England at Twickenham as they bid to keep their 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final hopes alive in another heavyweight Pool A clash, this time against Australia.

Where to watch

England vs Australia kicks off at 8pm BST on Saturday 3 October. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio Five Live


This is a match of such significance to England and an expectant home crowd that it barely requires anything by way of an introduction. After they conspired to throw away their lead against Wales with an ugly combination of persistent indiscipline, forgettable defending and a lack of attacking spark, Stuart Lancaster's side have now entered 'must-win' territory if they are to avoid the earliest exit ever suffered by a World Cup host since the tournament began in 1987 and prevent Lancaster's three-year tenure from being permanently tarnished.

Although Fiji pushed the Welsh hard in Cardiff on Thursday, the 25-13 final scoreline has left zero margin for error and every player should be precisely aware of the task at hand. The return of Jonathan Joseph at outside centre is a timely boost, with Brad Barritt moving back to 12 after his poor showing in an unfamiliar position and Sam Burgess dropping to the bench. Despite many criticising his selection ahead of George Ford last time out, Owen Farrell retains his place thanks to his proven reliability with the boot and fine defensive work. Ben Youngs survives an ankle scare to line up at scrum-half.

Ben Morgan is also restored to the starting XV having missed out on the Wales match with a knee problem. The Gloucester number eight replaces Billy Vunipola, who was one of few players to impress during that aforementioned defeat before being lost for six weeks due to a ligament strain. There is also a change in the second row, where Joe Launchbury deputises for Courtney Lawes, another who sustained knee damage. Nick Easter is preferred to James Haskell among the replacements due to his ability to fill in at lock as well as along the back row and Alex Goode is out of the match day squad altogether.

In contrast to England, Australia have had few dramas at this World Cup to date. A failure to secure a bonus point in their opener against Fiji was a minor hiccup, although they were able to display their impressive strength in depth during the 11-try, 65-3 rout of minnows Uruguay. Having made 14 changes for that trip to Villa Park, Michael Cheika has reverted back to his original line-up for this test and will hope that his team can dominate at the breakdown through twin opensides David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

The fleet-footed Israel Folau returns at full-back, while Toulon centre Matt Giteau partners Tevita Kuidrani in midfield and the equally experienced Adam-Ashley Cooper lines up on the right wing. Will Genia and Bernard Foley are paired at half-back, but Will Skelton and Wycliff Palu have been ruled out for the rest of the competition through injury. Controversial fly-half Quade Cooper does not make the cut.

The scrum has traditionally been the area in which the Wallabies, who have lost on their last two visits to Twickenham and were also beaten by their next opponents in the last eight of the 2007 World Cup in France, have struggled most against England. They have improved in that regard under Cheika's leadership and will be reluctant to demonstrate any weakness or vulnerability in the pack this time around.

Michael Hooper
Michael Cheika is set to pair natural openside flankers Michael Hooper and David Pocock in Australia's back row once again Getty


England: 15. Brown, 14. Watson, 13. Joseph, 12. Barritt, 11. May, 10. Farrell, 9. B Youngs, 8. Morgan, 7. Robshaw (c), 6. Wood, 5. Launchbury, 4. Parling, 3. Cole, 2. T Youngs, 1. Marler

Replacements: 16. Webber, 17. M Vunipola, 18. Brookes, 19. Kruis, 20. Easter, 21. Wigglesworth, 22. Ford, 23. Burgess

Australia: 15. Folau, 14. Ashley-Cooper, 13. Kuidrani, 12. Giteau, 11. Horne, 10. Foley, 9. Genia, 8. Pocock, 7. Hooper, 6. Fardy, 5. Simmons, 4. Douglas, 3. Kepu, 2. Moore (c), 1. Sio

Replacements: 16. Polota-Nau, 17. Slipper, 18. Holmes, 19. Mumm, 20. McCalman, 21. Phipps, 22. Toomua, 23. Beale

What the coaches say

Stuart Lancaster: "We are all aware of what is at stake – you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work it out. Of course not qualifying has preyed on my mind. That scenario has preyed on my mind from the moment that the draw was made. I understand the consequences. I understand where the accountability and responsibility lies, and it is with me: 100%. There is no hiding from that. The stakes are huge.

"I have had fantastic support from the Union, unlike in 2011 when there was not a lot of leadership from the RFU in that World Cup. The executive team have been fantastic at getting behind the team because they know that is what is needed to win a game of this size. There have not been any further conversations about the ramifications of defeat or victory. If you start distracting yourself with 'what ifs', you are not doing your job. I am just concentrating on getting the team nailed down to win this game. You don't spend time thinking about the past, or what might happen in the future. And you can't take the players beyond Saturday. Saturday is the thing."

Michael Cheika: "I know they think we're weak in the forwards. It's pretty obvious that, they're saying it out loud. They've done it to us, they've stuck it to us the last couple of times so there's nothing we can say in our room that's going to make any difference. The only place things are going to be different is on the field on Saturday night and that's where we've got to show our colours. Talk's cheap, you know. I believe in my players 201%.

"That stuff's not even resonating in my mind. I'm thinking about my lads, how we're going to play: good technique, good tactics and the stuff you don't need talent for, which is very big physicality. And trying to get the balance right."

Stuart Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster is fully aware that his reputation is on the line at Twickenham on Saturday evening Getty

Other fixtures

As well as England vs Australia, Saturday 3 October will also see Scotland face South Africa in a crucial clash at the summit of Pool B and Springbok-slayers Japan meet Samoa at Stadium mk in Milton Keynes.