RUGBY : Steve Thompson will complete a remarkable international comeback when he starts for England against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
Steve Thompson will complete a remarkable international comeback when he starts for England against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
The World Cup-winning hooker last started a Test match in the 2006 Six Nations before being forced to quit the game with a serious neck injury, but he could not accept a life on the sidelines and after seeking a second opinion he paid back a £500,000 insurance cheque and returned to action with Brive.
Thompson returned to the international fold for the summer series against Argentina, earning his 48th caps as a last minute replacement in the first Test win at Old Trafford.
But Dylan Hartley’s hamstring problems over the last week opened the door for Thompson to return to the England starting XV.
England will feature Thompson and Jonny Wilkinson in the same team for the first time since that 2003 World Cup final triumph against the Wallabies.
Ugo Monye will start at full-back with Mark Cueto and Matt Banahan on the wings, while Shane Geraghty returns at inside centre alongside Dan Hipkiss.
Up front, England will feature an all-Leicester back row of Tom Croft, Lewis Moody and Jordan Crane with Louis Deacon partnering captain Steve Borthwick in the second row.
Thompson will pack down with Tim Payne at loosehead and promising Bath tighthead Dave Wilson.
Biarrritz centre Ayoola Erinle and Northampton lock Courtney Lawes are both set to make their Test debuts off the bench.
England have included five France-based players in their 22 with Wilkinson, Thompson and Erinle joined by Stade Francais flanker James Haskell and Brive fly-half Andy Goode.