June International Tours

England to face Australia twice on June tour


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England will play two Tests against the Wallabies on their five match tour of Australia and New Zealand in June, the Rugby Football Union confirmed on Thursday.

The tour will help manager Martin Johnson assess his options ahead of next year’s World Cup in New Zealand where England will be looking to go one better than their runners-up spot in France in 2007.

It could also see Jonny Wilkinson, if the fly-half is selected, returning to Australia for the first time since he kicked the winning drop-goal that won England, then captained by Johnson, the 2003 World Cup final against the Wallabies in Sydney.

England, who are set to travel with a 44-man squad, will play internationals against Australia in Perth on June 12 and Sydney on June 19.

Their tour will also feature three midweek matches, two against the Australian Barbarians, a team comprised of up and coming players as well as established internationals, in Perth on June 8 and in Gosford on June 15.

After the second Test, England leave Australia for New Zealand where their tour concludes against the New Zealand Maori, celebrating their centenary, in Napier on June 23.

“The tour presents all the players and coaches with a great opportunity to test themselves against some excellent teams,” Johnson said.

“All five matches will be very tough and give us the opportunity to look at some players who may not have had the opportunity to play on this tour if it had been restricted to two Test matches,” the former lock added.

“The games will be great occasions and to play the New Zealand Maori in their centenary year is a huge honour.” Wallaby coach Robbie Deans was delighted the Australian Barbarians matches had been added to England’s schedule.

The New Zealander is a big fan of midweek fixtures, which were a staple of Test tours during the amateur era, continuing to have a place in the professional game.

“The midweek matches we played on our Spring Tour last year were a great example of the benefits the additional international exposure provides,” Deans said in a statement issued by the Australian Rugby Union.

“Quade Cooper played his way into our side for the Test against England the following weekend when we played Gloucester.

“Kurtley Beale also excelled that night, and wound up playing his first Test later in the trip.

“Luke Morahan then made his debut for the Wallabies at Cardiff, and has subsequently kicked on this year with the Queensland Reds in the Super 14.”

Turning to the Australian Barbarians’ matches against England, where he promised players from the Wallabies’ squad would be involved in both fixtures, Deans said: “Not only will potential Test places be on the line in these games, they are also invaluable opportunities for us to gauge players as part of the bigger picture, looking ahead to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“I’d imagine England coach Martin Johnson is taking a similar view.” England are currently third in the Six Nations which ends on Saturday when they face Grand Slam chasers and tournament leaders France in Paris.

England tour of Australia and New Zealand 2010:

In Australia
June 08: v Australian Barbarians, ME Stadium, Perth
June 12: v AUSTRALIA, 1st TEST, Subiaco Oval, Perth
June 15: v Australian Barbarians, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
June 19: v AUSTRALIA, 2nd TEST, Olympic Stadium, Sydney

In New Zealand
June 23: v New Zealand Maori, McLean Park, Napier

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