London – England coach Stuart Lancaster has opted to start with Lee Dickson rather than Ben Youngs at scrum-half for Saturday's opening November international against Australia at Twickenham.
Dickson relegated Youngs, who played twice for the British and Irish Lions in their recent 2-1 series win in Australia, to the bench after impressing in early season matches for Northampton and is now set to win just his 10th cap.
Injuries to Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt mean England have a new midfield pairing, with rugby league convert Joel Tomkins set to make his Test debut at outside centre alongside Gloucester playmaker Billy Twelvetrees.
Billy Vunipola, who has impressed for Saracens this term, has replaced Ben Morgan at No 8 and is now set to make his first Test start after winning two caps off the bench on the pre-season tour of Argentina.
Wing Marland Yarde is also set for a maiden run-on appearance after scoring two tries on Test 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 Thursday after announcing his side.
With Geoff Parling out with concussion, Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury are England's lock duo pairing with Mako Vunipola, Billy's brother, replacing the injured Alex Corbisiero, who scored the Lions' opening try in their decisive third Test win over the Wallabies in July, at loosehead prop.
Australia beat Lancaster's side 20-14 when the old rivals, drawn in the same pool for the 2015 World Cup in England, last met, at Twickenham in November last year.
“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, whose team will again be captained by flanker Chris Robshaw, 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.”
After the Wallabies, England face Argentina at Twickenham before concluding their November campaign at home to world champions New Zealand.
Mike Brown; Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Marland Yarde; Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw (capt), Tom Wood; Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury; Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola. Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler, David Wilson, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Ben Foden – Sapa-AFP