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November 5, 2009

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Thompson, Wilko back for England

HOOKER Steve Thompson completed the final stage of his remarkable comeback yesterday when he was named in England's starting team to face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

Thompson, a World Cup winner in 2003, was forced to retire from the game with a neck injury but, after repaying his insurance payout, returned to action with French club Brive.

After a five-minute appearance off the bench against Argentina in June, the 31-year-old will reclaim the starting berth against the Wallabies.

Jonny Wilkinson also returns at flyhalf for his first appearance since the 2008 Six Nations, as does flanker Lewis Moody as part of an all-Leicester back row.

A glut of injuries has forced coach Martin Johnson into a series of new combinations in the backs, with a back three of Ugo Monye, Matt Banahan and Mark Cueto, a center pairing of Shane Geraghty and Dan Hipkiss and Danny Care at scrumhalf inside Wilkinson.

Steve Borthwick retains the captaincy, as well as Johnson's full backing, and is joined in the second row by Louis Deacon.

Australia will name its team tomorrow.

On Tuesday, the Wallabies began their Europe tour by subduing Gloucester 36-5 before a packed Kingsholm Ground.

Victory wasn't assured by the Wallabies reserves until the first of Drew Mitchell's pair of converted tries made it 24-5 after 65 minutes.

Until then, a Gloucester side featuring only four players from last weekend's Premiership outing gave a determined effort against the first Wallabies visitors in 28 years. Few of Tuesday's Wallabies are expected to make the test side against England.


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