Australia's Pocock fit to face England as Beale misses out

 David Pocock (Getty)
David Pocock (Getty)

London - Wallabies ace David Pocock has overcome a neck problem to be included in Australia's starting team to play England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The 30-year-old back-row forward missed training on Monday and was restricted to non-contact work on Tuesday after sustaining the injury in last weekend's 26-7 win against Italy in Padua.

Nevertheless, Zimbabwe-born Pocock - who did not finish Thursday's training session - was named at No 8 by coach Michael Cheika on Thursday for Australia's final Test of the year.

"I wouldn't say he is fully fit, he is hurting," Cheika told reporters.

"He is desperate to play. He has put his head into places where others like to go all year and he has copped a few whacks."

Cheika, who guided the side to the World Cup final in 2015, said he would not be selected unless Pocock felt good to go.

"I wouldn't take a risk physically with him," he said.

"He's done a few things he has felt alright with."

Cheika, 51, who is the only coach to win both the northern and southern hemisphere premier club continental competitions with Leinster and the Waratahs respectively, said comments Australia had made to the authorities in reference to Pocock taking hits had failed to elicit a reaction.

"They target him but I don't know if it is illegally," he said.

"He certainly takes some punishment there.

"We have gone through a fair few clips and spoken to people after matches but had little joy there.

"We won't address it on Saturday as we have had our say already."

In a surprise move, Kurtley Beale has been left out of the team entirely - the first occasion in recent times that no place in the back division could be spared for the gifted playmaker when fit and available.

"I don't think we have really fired in the 3/4 (backs) this year," said Cheika.

"I want to play a certain way in this game and it was with that thought in mind I had to make some really difficult decisions."

Israel Folau remains at fullback despite the return of Dane Haylett-Petty, back on the right wing after playing off the bench against the Azzurri.

Jack Maddocks will start on the opposite wing.

Matt To'omua remains at flyhalf after starring in Italy, with Bernard Foley again lining up at inside centre.

Scrumhalf Will Genia will win his 100th cap at Twickenham, becoming the 10th Australian player to record a century of international appearances.

Genia is one of five changes to Australia's line-up, with tighthead prop Sekope Kepu back in the side alongside hooker Tolu Latu.

England named their team earlier on Thursday with Red Rose boss Eddie Jones, the former Australia coach, looking to end Manu Tuilagi's more than two-year absence from international rugby by recalling the Leicester centre on the bench.

Australia have lost all five Tests against England since Jones took over as boss of the 'old enemy' after the Wallabies condemned the then hosts to a first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.

Teams

England

15 Elliot Daly, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, Ben Moon 

Substitutes: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 George Ford, 23 Manu Tuilagi

Australia

15 Israel Folau; 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Jack Maddocks; 10 Matt To'omua, 9 Will Genia; 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey; 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Roda; 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Sefa Naivalu

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