Itoje set to replace Robshaw for England in Brisbane test

(Reuters) – Former England captain Chris Robshaw is likely to miss out on a starting place for the first test against Australia on Saturday, with head coach Eddie Jones appearing to favour Maro Itoje to start as blindside flanker.

The 21-year-old Itoje, who has played most of his rugby at lock, trained in Robshaw’s position in the backrow on Monday, as Jones looks to shake up his strategy in the three-match series against the country of his birth.

The switch would allow Joe Launchbury, who was man of the match in England’s 27-13 victory over Wales in last month’s warm-up at Twickenham, to partner George Kruis in the second row.

England defence coach Paul Gustard said the management was looking for a fresh approach to the series.

“If we sit back and allow them to play, we will come unstuck pretty fast,” Gustard told British media. “‘Bodyline’ was about saying we can’t come here and do what England have done before.

“That mantra of doing something different is what we are trying to do. Pick a different team to what has been done and that is the kind of philosophy we will take into it.”

Uncapped convert Ben Te’o, who missed training because of “muscle soreness” could also make his England debut at inside centre in the stadium where he played rugby league for the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL from 2009-12.

The New Zealand-born 29-year-old, who will join Worcester Warriors from Irish province Leinster next season, has completed just two sessions with England but is expected to be fit for the first test.

“He’s made the decision to come here on the England tour, he’s not with Ireland or back with Australia,” Gustard added.

“I think he has shown his allegiance by putting his foot in the camp.”

Jones will announce his team on Thursday.

The second test is in Melbourne on June 18 with the final match in Sydney on June 25.

(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru)

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