Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wallaby Woes a Boost for Johnson as He Bids to Patch Up Injury-Hit England; Team Manager Is without 12 Players for Opening Test but Tourists Have Their Own Problems

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wallaby Woes a Boost for Johnson as He Bids to Patch Up Injury-Hit England; Team Manager Is without 12 Players for Opening Test but Tourists Have Their Own Problems

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

MARTIN JOHNSON is taking comfort from Australia's misfortune as he tries to assemble an England side capable of getting revenge on the Wallabies.

Twelve months ago, Australia won 28-14 at Twickenham to inflict the first defeat of Johnson's reign with England then losing heavily against South Africa and New Zealand on successive weeks.

England begin their autumn Test campaign against the Wallabies at Twickenham a week tomorrow and although team manager Johnson is without 12 first-choice players for that match, the tourists have problems of their own.

Australia vice-captain Berrick Barnes is out of tomorrow's Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand after injuring his left ankle in practice in Japan and he could miss the England clash.

Barnes's injury is a huge blow to Australia coach Robbie Deans, who has has been forced to reshuffle his backline, promoting 19-year-old James O'Connor from the bench to start at full-back and moving Adam Ashley-Cooper to inside-centre against the All Blacks.

Johnson is also counting on the fact the Wallabies are playing in Japan tomorrow and then Gloucester on Tuesday - matches designed to boost Australian Rugby Union coffers - to affect their strength when they face England.

He said: "Even with the challenges we have had as a squad, we can still perform at the level we will need against an Australia side that must play in Tokyo and Gloucester before coming to Twickenham.

"They have their injuries and particular challenges and this is what happens with rugby teams. Switching from Tokyo to London is not ideal but if they perform well then it's a confidence boost. However, if they lost five players through injury I am sure they won't think it's great.

"They have to deal with that and we have to deal with our situation and there won't be an asterisk under the game saying Australia had to travel thousands of miles and we had injuries - it's only the score that is recorded."

England will wear their re-designed white shirt against the Aussies and their new "away" purple jerseys against Argentina the following week. …

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