England v Australia, Twickenham, November 7
Wilson will rise to the challenge - Rowntree
November 5, 2009
England prop David Wilson looks on during training, England training session, Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, England, November 4, 2009
Wilson will make only his second Test start when he lines up against the Wallabies this weekend © Getty Images

England scrum coach Graham Rowntree believes prop David Wilson is up to the task of shackling Australia's stand-out loose-head Benn Robinson.

The 24-year-old tight-head will pack down for just his second start and only his third Test cap against the Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday in the wake of injuries to veterans Phil Vickery and Julian White. And in opposite number Robinson, he faces arguably the finest practitioner of scrummaging on the current world stage.

But Rowntree is confident Wilson is up to the challenge in England's opening November clash. "Robinson is a world leader. He was the standout loose-head in the Tri-Nations. David is still young but we believe he's still up to the job," he said. "We want him to come through because he's got all the attributes. He's technically excellent in what he does. He's developed as a character and is performing more of a leadership role."

England demolished the Australian set-piece at Twickenham in 2005 and again in the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-final at the Stade Velodrome. But those dark days are now over and Rowntree is gearing up for a full-on scrummaging battle, which is part of the reason Steve Thompson was brought in at hooker alongside Wilson and Tim Payne.

"I have a lot of respect for Australia," said Rowntree. "The balance of power at the scrum shifted throughout the Tri-Nations. We are preparing for a good scrummaging contest. I've been very impressed with Steve Thompson. One thing he has done really well for Brive has been scrummaging. He's a big man and I've been very impressed with his attitude. We watched him closely in Brive and he's actually flowered in the environment we have in place here."

Thompson will win his 49th cap this weekend but will feature alongside Jonny Wilkinson in an England team for the first time since that 2003 Rugby World Cup final. Lewis Moody also returns, bringing vital experience to an otherwise depleted England team, which includes six players who count their international caps in single figures.

"Thompson's leadership and maturity has really come through this week. His perspective on things, with what he has been through, has also been there," said team manager Martin Johnson. "Jonny's leadership in the group has been fantastic, his communication with the players, and particularly the younger guys. These guys have seen what he has done over the last 10 years playing for England and it's a tremendous amount, so you can't really say too much more than that. It really helps someone like Davey Wilson to have a guy like Steve Thompson around. It is good to have characters like that around."

Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has also welcomed Thompson's return to the international stage. The hooker retired from the game in 2007 after picking up a serious neck injury but ignored the advice of medics and returned to the professional arena just one year later.

"He's one of the few players in the side that has beaten Australia. Not just once, but on a regular basis and he'll bring great leadership quality as well," Dallaglio told Press Association Sport. "The best thing is that he knows what it takes to get to the top of the world.

"Through no fault of their own, there's not a lot of players in that England squad who know or have ever breathed the rarefied air of being the best team in the world and he can sit down and explain to any of those players what it takes from a fitness point of view, what it takes mentally and physically to get there.

"He can tell them all the things they want to know because he worked very hard to get there so I think that's a really good selection and I'm glad he's in the squad."

© Scrum.com

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